A new UN report calls for greater action in Europe to address the triple environmental catastrophe

Date:

A new UN report calls for greater action in Europe to address the triple environmental catastrophe

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

Action is required to address emissions, waste, pollution, and biodiversity loss, a report by UNECE and UN Environment Programme says. The region’s river basins, lakes, and aquifers are reportedly under numerous stressors. Climate change is also causing floods, droughts, and water-borne diseases. A pan-European e-waste management cooperation would make it possible to recover essential resources. Regional governments could improve raw materials management by fostering a circular economy. Most nations have yet to create procedures that consider sustainability when analysing the costs and benefits of infrastructure projects.

The report asserts that action is required to address emissions, waste, pollution, and biodiversity loss and explains that these issues can be solved by emphasizing a “circular economy” and sustainable infrastructure.

The request was made in the report produced by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and UN Environment Programme during the ninth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference, which is taking place till Friday (UNEP).

The UNECE director general, Olga Algayerova, said that the assessment’s findings, which come roughly halfway through Agenda 2030, “must be a wake-up call for the area.” “The region experienced a catastrophic drought this summer, which foretold what we might expect in the years to come and demonstrated that there is no more time to waste.”

Fight against air pollution

The research states that, despite significant progress, air pollution continues to pose the biggest health threat in the area.

Despite a 13% decrease in premature mortality due to long-term exposure to fine particles in 41 European nations, concentration levels still exceed the WHO’s 2005 air quality recommendations.

The report recommends additional actions, such as the most effective methods for lowering emissions and those brought on by traffic.

Inger Andersen, head of UNEP, declared that the research was conclusive. “Securing a clean and green future is the only way to move forward.”

Reducing greenhouse gas

Despite a decline in greenhouse gas emissions in western Europe between 2014 and 2019, the remainder of the continent has increased.

Additionally, even though 29 nations saw an increase in the usage of renewable energy between 2013 and 2017, the region still heavily relies on fossil fuels, which account for about 78% of energy consumption.

The research calls on policymakers to do rid of or reform harmful subsidies and create incentives to stimulate the decarbonization of the economy by moving financial resources to renewable sources.

Time to make a plan

The region’s river basins, lakes, and aquifers are reportedly under numerous stressors, and climate change is bringing new difficulties like floods, droughts, and water-borne diseases.

The research urges increased water conservation and natural solutions for water retention basins because pollution and urban and industrial wastewater discharge continue to be public health hazards.

We must work together to accomplish our goals, Ms Andersen stated. “As residents feel the pinch and pay the highest energy costs in history, as they experience record temperatures and watch their water reservoirs go smaller… Nations must demonstrate that they have a strategy.

Cyclical economy

Growing waste and resource use can be reduced with the help of a circular economy, where production and consumption are mutually supportive and resource-efficient.

The amount of garbage produced keeps increasing, even in places with a strong political commitment to a circular economy, like the European Union and other Western European nations.

The research contends that a pan-European e-waste management cooperation would make it possible to recover essential resources and calls on governments to increase waste prevention in production, consumption, and remanufacturing, including through financial incentives like tax breaks.

The amount of minerals extracted has tripled over the previous 50 years, and processing is responsible for over 90% of the impacts of climate change, 50% of water stress, and over 90% of biodiversity loss.

Regional governments could improve raw materials management by fostering a circular economy.

According to the report, the UN has created a variety of instruments and strategies to minimise pollution, strengthen environmental protection, conserve resources, and promote the transition to a circular economy. They need to be implemented substantially faster, Ms Algayerova emphasised.

Before it’s too late, we must make urgent, courageous political commitments and behavioural reforms.

Construction of infrastructure

Sustainable infrastructure investment has been demonstrated to affect post-COVID recovery significantly.

The majority of nations have yet to create procedures that take sustainability into account when analysing the costs and benefits of significant infrastructure projects, such as the cost of pollution, ecosystem services, or biodiversity protection. The UN study provides resources to assist address issues.

According to Ms Andersen, “This assessment can be a roadmap for lowering emissions, a healthier environment for people and nature, better waste management, and cleaner air.”

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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