Paris appeal for green economic revival in the EU (November 2012)
Chief Executives from all 17 of WWF’s European National and Programme Offices have issued a joint appeal to European leaders for the creation of a truly sustainable European Economy.
WWF calls for green way out of economic crisis (May 2013)
An environmentally and socially sustainable exit from the current financial crisis, in order to preserve the natural capital that underpins successful economic activity; is urgently needed, stressed WWF ahead of the Informal Meeting of the European Council gathering in Brussels on 23 May.
WWF addresses IMF and EC on environmental impact of bailout plans (January 2012)
In letters addressed to International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, WWF stressed the urgent need for sustainable solutions to the ongoing global financial crisis, to preserve the natural capital that underpins successful economic activity.
Letters to IMF and EC
Reply by European Commission
Is the EU giving up on its green battles and abandoning its leading role as a global green leader? Are governments rolling back their green policies and legislation? Is Europe becoming a land that invites any type of development, regardless of its ecological footprint, always based on a chorus of urgency in dealing with the economic crisis? Are we witnessing a decreasing footprint in European lifestyles?
WWF’s CrisisWatch monthly bulletin aims at providing answers to these pressing questions. Now in its 15th issue, since February 2012, CrisisWatch has reported on a number of alarming losses of environmental acquis and high footprint investments, both at the national and at the EU level. It has also highlighted isolated cases of reduced energy footprint and material consumption, resulting from the economic hardship. Overall, the picture is rather dim for the environment and the prospects of greening the economy, both in the EU and in non-EU countries influenced by European policies.
In the view of WWF, the economic and the environmental crisis are deeply rooted in the same unsustainable economic development model. The present economic hardship should herald the need for a transition to truly sustainable economies.
We sincerely hope you find this e-bulletin interesting and useful to your work and please share with us any information which you consider relevant.
Theodota Nantsou, WWF Greece & Isabella Pratesi, WWF Italy
WWF’s monthly bulletin highlighting important information
on the environmental dimensions
of the economic crisis in the EU.
As a solutions-oriented conservation organisation, WWF’s focus is on the development of proposals for sustainable policies. Our most important interventions for a green way out of the crisis are the following.
For more information, please contact:
Theodota Nantsou: Head of Policy, WWF Greece, +30 6940527556
On the international Biodiversity Day (May 21st), Spanish group Ecologistas en Acción announced its analysis based on the IUCN’s European Red List of endangered species and the EEA’s Corine Land Cover.
Spain hosting the largest percentage of threatened species, followed by Portugal and Greece, there is an urgent need for immediate conservation action. According to the analysis, the threats to biodiversity are critically exacerbated by the current crisis-related policies and neglect for nature conservation. The green group also criticised Spain’s autonomous regional authorities for promoting policies that theoretically promote economic growth, whereas in reality these result in serious environmental and social impacts.
A recent Government decision approving an additional EUR500,000 for more studies on the River Acheloos diversion to the plain of Thessaly has been heavily criticised as an outrageous waste of public money, especially in these hard times of austerity. This decision is part of a EUR500 million expenditure line titled "Ε064-Acheloos Diversion", which is still included in the National Budget and is managed by the Ministry of Development.
Initially conceived in the late 1930's, the pharaonic Acheloos diversion scheme has been the subject of six rulings by the Council of State, all of which render it illegal on environmental grounds. A seventh decision is pending, based on a preliminary ruling by the European Court of Justice, which regards the compatibility of the scheme's legal basis with the EU's Water Framework Directive (Case C-43/10). It is worth noting that the European Commission has refused to provide funding for the construction of the dams and the diversion tunnel since 1994.
Aiming to enrich the notoriously mismanaged water resources of Thessaly, the Acheloos diversion has for decades fed visions of intensifying water demanding agriculture in the heavily farmed region of Thessaly.
According to the alliance of five NGOs that have been campaigning against the scheme since 1992, the Acheloos diversion is an environmental crime that will result in a waste of public money, without at all addressing the root causes of the farming crisis in Thessaly.
The reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy is at crossroads: ministers from countries with industrial fishing fleets put pressure on MEPs in order to water down the Commission’s proposals for fast and full recovery targets for fishery stocks.
According to WWF, nearly two out of three assessed fisheries in the EU are nearing depletion. It is absolutely vital that the Common Fisheries Policy ensures no more fish stocks are overfished by 2020. In February, the European Parliament adopted with an overwhelming majority a legislative proposal that promises to put an end to overfishing in Europe. The current position of many Fisheries Ministers opens the future to overfishing for more than 100 years. Agreement on the new package may be reached by the end of June.
According to Andrea Kohl, Programme Director at WWF’s European Policy Office, “[w]e need a strong reform allowing fish stocks to recover. WWF is looking very carefully at the non-transparent negotiations which appear to contradict the principle of co-decision and permit blackmail threats to the MEPs by certain Member States.”
Sources: WWF’s European Policy Office.
A new round of violent clashes between anti-gold protesters and police forces over the gold mining investment at Skouries, Chalkidiki, leaves between 2 and 7 policemen (accounts vary) and one protester injured. Three protesters were detained, on charges of resistance to and assault against the Police forces.
According to Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias, who visited the area in the aftermath of a February 20th arson attack against infrastructure at the mining worksite, also targeting the security guards, all foreign investments that help Greece overcome the economic crisis will be protected by the Police (see CrisisWatch 13).
On May 23rd, police unions protested against the increased Police involvement in guarding the investment at Skouries. According to the spokesman for the National Federation of Police Officers, the 90-100 officers policing the gold mine daily since the arson attack of last February, are under serious psychological stress. In the same time, other parts of Northern Greece remain insufficiently policed, due to reduced staffing of many police stations whose officers have been deployed in Skouries.
Α recent ruling of the Council of State rejected all challenges to the environmental permit. The Court accepted that the area is not protected by EU or national law and judged that the environmental impact will not be significant.
An enduring and dynamic anti-gold movement sees the Skouries investment as proof of Greece’s “free-for-all” development policy, no matter the cost to the environment and quality of life. Anti-gold protests also reflect a widespread distrust against the Government and its promises that the environmental conditions of this and all major investments will be closely monitored.
Many European governments facing the economic downturn promote mining for gold and hydrocarbons as nature’s bonanza that will pave the way out of the crisis (see CrisisWatch 10).
The Environment Ministry of Romania recently granted US energy giant Chevron the much contested exploration rights for shale gas in three areas in Eastern Romania. Chevron has long tried to obtain these permits, but serious objections against its plans were raised both by local communities in the concerned areas (ranking among the poorest in the EU) and by the incumbent Government of Victor Ponta, before its election in 2012 (see CrisisWatch 12).
Chevron’s plans include a 2D geological survey in Constanta and the drilling of exploratory wells in Vaslui County. Constanta is located on the Black Sea coast and hosts important beach resorts and cultural monuments. The communities inhabiting Vaslui County are particularly impoverished and depend primarily on subsistence-level agriculture. Yet the demonstrations against this activity in the economically depressed region have been impressive.
Shale gas has been heavily criticised by environmental NGOs, such as WWF. According to a recent statement by WWF UK, there is a fundamental incoherence between the extraction of shale gas and tackling climate change, due to the serious impacts on the natural environment.
New solar power installations in the EU have shown a drastic decrease between 2011 and 2012, according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association’s (EPIA) “Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics 2013-2017” published by the. According to EPIA,
“[t]he results show clearly that Europe’s leading role in driving the global PV market is coming to an end. In 2011, Europe accounted for more than 70% of the world’s new PV installations; in 2012 this number was around 55%. In 2013 it is almost certain that the majority of new PV capacity in the world will be installed outside of Europe.”
In an attempt to respond to the “solar crisis” and in the midst of a fierce trade dispute with China, the EU initiated a series of trade-defense measures, including the imposition of levies of up to 67% on solar equipment imported from China, probably effective from December. Earlier in 2013, Brussels launched an investigation against China for predatory pricing policies (dumping) and allegedly providing illegal support to its photovoltaic industry through subsidies.
Although the EU’s solar manufacturing industry, such as SolarWorld that submitted the anti-dumping complaint to the European Commission, has been seriously impacted by below-the-cost prices of Chinese solar technologies, experts fear that up to 242,000 jobs may be lost from the PV re-selling and installation sector. According to the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (AFASE), a coalition of 500 companies in the European solar industry, “[t]he Commission’s plans to impose tariffs of approximately 37- to 69% on solar products from China are wrong and do not take into account the interest of the European Union industry; Punitive tariffs will cost us more than 200,000 jobs.”
In a crucial May 22nd summit, the European Council failed to show the much needed vision and leadership towards clean energy and phasing out of fossil fuels.
Europe’s political leaders appeared reluctant to cut policy ties with the EU’s dependency on fossil fuels and tied the need for low-cost energy and industrial competitiveness to “silver bullet” options, such as shale gas. Although the summit conclusions reaffirmed the “implementation of all other related legislation, such as the Directive on the promotion of renewable energies [and the Regulation on security of gas supply]”, it implied that renewable energy is not cost-effective, at least in the present state of affairs.
According to a statement before the summit by Jason Anderson, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF’s European Policy Office:
“[t]hose with narrow vested interests are trying to hang progressive climate policies with the rope of rising energy prices. They demand a halt to climate policy and a focus on new fossil fuels in order to maintain competitiveness; but this is a deliberate diversion from the real challenges Europe must overcome to secure prosperity for all: rising fossil fuel bills, slow progress creating modern integrated and competitive markets, and continued weakness on energy savings.”
For more information, please contact Theodota Nantsou, Policy Coordinator, WWF Greece, email@example.com, +30 6940527556