EU resource-use plan must be strengthened
A raft of measures announced in Brussels today [Wednesday 2 July], aimed at getting Europe to use its resources more wisely, is weak and insufficient, says Friends of the Earth.
The European Commission’s ‘Circular Economy Package’ covers a broad spectrum of resource-related areas including materials, buildings and waste disposal. However, the plans lack concrete measures in some of these areas, says the environmental charity.
A major flaw in the package is that the proposed target for improving resource use focuses on the weight of materials Europe uses in relation to economic activity (GDP), and currently ignores the massive amount of land and water it also uses from around the world.
Europe is a net importer of resources, including from many poorer, lower-consuming nations. This over-consumption is linked to pollution, deforestation, climate change, land-grabbing, human rights abuses and other environmental and social problems.
Friends of the Earth Resource Use Campaigner Richard Dyer said:
“These proposals are weak and insufficient and don’t give a full picture of all the resources Europe consumes, such as the land and water we use to make our products.
“The EU is committed to reducing resource use by 2050. A 70% recycling target by 2030 is a big step forward, but if the EU really wants to take this issue seriously it must start measuring all the land, water, carbon and materials Europe is responsible for using – and set out clear plans to reduce them.”
Notes to editors:
1. Moving towards a circular economy | European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/
2. EU policymaking has failed to take account of water and land footprints, leading to poorly thought out policies in areas such as biofuels and fracking. Footprints are a measurement of the resources, such as water, consumed domestically within Europe plus the water imported within products such as food and clothing, minus the water which is used for exports. Had the footprint measurement been considered it would have shown that these policies are preventing Europe from becoming more resource efficient.
3. Instead of the footprint measurement, the European Commission proposes to use the ‘resource productivity indicator’. This calculation fails to give a clear picture of overall consumption as it is linked to GDP. Linking material consumption to GDP will only result in distorted calculations which make countries with high GDP appear more resource efficient than they are in reality.
4. Friends of the Earth believes that the EU – and its national governments – need to know how much water, land, carbon and materials they consume in order to take steps towards a more resource efficient future. For this reason, Friends of the Earth is campaigning to get the European Union to measure its land, water, materials and carbon footprint, and set reduction targets for each.
5. Links to reports with background information on the resource consumption crisis and why we need to measure land, water, material and greenhouse gas emissions
a. ‘Overconsumption – Our use of the world’s natural resources’ http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2009/Overconsumption_Sep09.pdf
b. ‘Measuring our resource use – vital tool in creating a resource efficient EU’ http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2010/measuring_resource_use.pdf