Policy highlights, November 2013

1.European Environment Agency: Competing demands on Europe's environment undermining human well-being (20 November 2013).

“Europeans depend on the environment to provide for many aspects of their material well-being, according to the report. Environmental pressures associated with our lifestyles seem to be decreasing, at least within Europe's borders. However, seen through the lens of resource use and well-being, European consumption is still unsustainable, particularly in the context of growing resource demands globally. Policies should be closer integrated to reconcile competing demands on nature and to maximise benefits to society.

To maintain a high standard of living in Europe, we will need to make a more fundamental transition to an economic model which meets our needs at much lower environmental cost,” Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director, said. “We can see that the European environment is currently under pressure in many areas, and incremental improvements will not be enough to put Europe on the path to a green economy.”

2.Pew Research Center, Experts rank the top 10 global trends (20 November 2013).

“A new report from the World Economic Forum ranks the 10 most important global trends, based on a poll of 1,592 leaders from academia, business, government, and non-profits.” #5. Inaction on climate change #6 Diminishing confidence in economic policies. #7. A lack of values in leadership.

3.OECD: Economic Outlook (19 November 2013).

“The global economy is expected to continue expanding at a moderate pace over the coming two years, but policymakers must ensure that instability in financial markets and underlying fragility in some major economies are not allowed to derail growth, according to the OECD’s latest Economic Outlook. … Growth since the global crisis has been uneven and hesitant, while job creation has been even more disappointing,” OECD Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan said during the Outlook presentation. “Clear and credible strategies are needed for how jobs and growth will be created and public finances restored. This will require a strong commitment to structural reforms in advanced and emerging market economies alike,” Mr Padoan said.”

4.Global Carbon Project: Carbon Budget 2013 (19 November 2013).

“Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement production increased by 2.1% in 2012, with a total of 9.7±0.5 GtC (billion tonnes of carbon) emitted to the atmosphere, 58% above 1990 emissions (the Kyoto Protocol reference year). Emissions are projected to increase by a further 2.1% in 2013. In 2012, the ocean and land carbon sinks respectively removed 28% and 23% of total (fossil fuel and land use change) CO2.”

“The global financial crisis of 2008–2009 had no lasting effect on emissions. Carbon intensity has had minimal improvement with increased economic activity since 2005”.

5.The World Bank: Weather-Related Loss & Damage Rising as Climate Warms (18 November 2013).

Titled Building Resilience: Integrating Climate and Disaster Risk into Development, the report highlights good practices and innovative solutions for protecting lives and livelihoods, and for decreasing losses and damages to private property and critical infrastructure.

It shows that weather-related financial losses are concentrated in fast-growing, middle-income countries because such countries have increasingly high-value assets that are also becoming more exposed. The average impact of disasters in such nations equaled 1 percent of gross domestic product between 2001 and 2006 – ten times higher than the average for high-income countries.

6.WWF: Priority demands on the Greek EU Presidency (5 November 2013).

Greece takes on the Presidency of the EU at a critical time. The country is going through an unprecedented financial crisis and is undergoing economic adjustment with the support of EU institutions. During this period, WWF has recorded major rollbacks and shortfalls in environmental policies and legislation, occurring primarily in those EU member states most affected by the crisis, i.e. Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal. The EU’s role as a global green leader is seriously undermined by this situation and the natural foundations of European economies is placed under serious risk.

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