New Commission set to run on environmental deficit?

In anticipation of the 2015 Commission Work Programme (CWP 2015), which is expected to be approved in mid-December, concerns abound over its tendency towards environmental deregulation. 

In a letter addressed by President Juncker and Vice-President Timmermans to the new Commissioners, the priorities of the Commission for 2015 are sorted under respective headings of the 10-priority plan for Europe. Given the absence of a clearly articulated environmental priority, the plan includes under Priority 3 – A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy the “In depth evaluation of Birds and Habitats directives” and the “Reassessment of air and waste packages”. The list also includes a chapter on the REFIT programme, which mandates the review of pending policy packages on air, waste, energy taxation, eco-design and energy labeling and a compensation fund for oil pollution.


October 2014 editorial

The urgent and dramatic campaign of WWF Spain to avert the voting of a bill that severely weakens the conservation framework for national parks captures our hearts: the economic downturn is misused by many political leaders as an excuse to undermine basic environmental legislation and treat unique natural treasures as an infinite resource for quick and dirty financial gains. The reported decision of the Popular Party parliamentary group to freeze its legislative proposal is a sign of hope, as it proves that targeted and clearly articulated public outcry can halt the environmental overhaul. 

At the other end of Mediterranean Europe, WWF Greece unveiled its road map for a living economy in the crisis-stricken country. At a conference held in Athens on October 15th, speakers from the areas of justice, public governance and economics stated out the need for clear rules and policies that provide transparency, legal certainty and environmental integration in the development, spatial planning and economic agendas. Experts from the sectors of tourism and rural policy-making stressed the need for Greece to build a living real economy based on its unique selling point: nature. The newly elected Mayor of Kozani, Greece’s lignite powerhouse, unfolded the region’s prospects for a sustainable and healthier post-coal era. Representatives from the banking sector, a model sustainable fisheries business initiative and social enterprises focusing on green energy and waste management demonstrated that the future for a living economy is out there and that Europe, not just Greece, needs to face it as a political priority. 

As the EU’s capital is preparing to house a new Commission of historically low environmental ambition, EU leaders failed to come up with the necessary urgent and forward-looking policy response to the unfolding climate crisis. The climate and energy package for 2030 sets low clean energy targets that keep the old and climate polluting economy alive and killing and does not harness all of Europe’s green potential and talent in developing and championing policies for a living planet. 

As Tony Long remarked at the conference in Athens, “…politicians are now in the unenviable position of having only a bag of growth indicators to sell to their increasingly skeptical and knowledgeable electorates who want and need to be presented with other indicators of well-being and progress”. It is high time that Europeans stand up and demand ecologically and socially sustainable ways out of the crisis.

Theodota Nantsou, WWF Greece, and Isabella Pratesi, WWF Italy



Living economy in Greece

Intervention by Tony Long, Director of WWF EPO, at the conference organised by WWF Greece / Athens, 15 October 2014 


I start my intervention with a quotation from the then International President of WWF, Chief Anayaoku, at a major conference in Brussels in 2007:

Our way of living is not only threatening the health and diversity of our planet’s species, but has become a huge threat to human survival as well.

·     Societies cannot continue to operate as if the planet was a business in liquidation.

·     We cannot continue to turn our backs on pollution and call it someone else’s problem.

·    We cannot continue to call income what in reality is resource depletion.

·  We cannot claim economic success for development patterns that leave hundreds of millions of people marginalised and which stoke the fears of resentment and conflict.

We need to move beyond conventional economic accounting. We are calling for new ways to measure and record progress so that we can take the necessary corrective measures to set a more wise development path.” 


New European Commission does not beam bright light for environment

Under President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker, Environment will not have its own Commissioner, for the first time in 25 years, whereas climate change policies now rank subordinate to energy market priorities. Worse still, the headline of the mission of the new Environment, Maritime and Fisheries Commissioner is deregulation, instead of providing full support to the sustainability pillar of the EU treaties and ensuing the implementation of the 7th Environmental Action Plan.

In a letter addressed by the EU’s “Green 10” NGOs, the members of the European Parliament are called to vote for a change in the composition and the mission of the new European Commission, as proposed by President Juncker. 

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