Issue 47

January 2016

The Netherlands took over the 6-month rotating Presidency of the European Union this week from Luxembourg.  The next 6 months in the Council of Ministers will be challenging time with the February Summit finalising an agreement ahead of the UK referendum over EU membership in Autumn. The Netherlands takes the chair of the Council of Ministers and has the opportunity to set the agenda for the 28 Member States.  So how will environment and energy policy fair in 2016 against a background of the ongoing refugee and migration crisis and the threat of terror at the top of the EU’s agenda ?

According to the Dutch Presidency website, EU Environment ministers are scheduled to agree on the recently proposed European Commission circular economy package in June.The majority of environment ministers believe that the European Commission’s updated circular economy package is an improvement on the previous one taking into account the Member States different levels of development especially in relation to recycling targets. The package consists of 5 pieces of proposed legislation amending the directives on Waste Framework, Packaging and Packaging Waste

Ljubljana will become the new 2016 Green Capital of Europe at a high profile launch event and handover ceremony in Brussels on 9th February.  The year is an important opportunity for the holder to showcase sustainable urban development, share best practices and encourage other cities across Europe to become greener, healthier and more sustainable. The ceremony will serve to highlight Bristol’s accomplishments as European Green Capital 2015.

With UK Government departments and agencies struggling with impact of this winter’s non-stop flooding in the North and West of the country, DEFRA, the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, is having to manage despite having endured very significant cuts to its budget by central government.  Now the Parliamentary select committee, for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has heard that EU fines for legislative compliance in future relating to existing legislation on water, air pollutio

Land use conflicts in the food and feed sectors from bioethanol production are a growing problem.  Bioethanol is produced from crops such as wheat, maize, sugar beet and sugar cane.  Now an EU-funded project has succeeded in creating a second generation biofuel from agricultural residues and therefore avoids the land use conflicts with the food and feed sectors.

Some 900 thousand people were employed in work relating to the supply of energy efficient goods and services in 2010, according to a new study  from Cambridge Econometrics that ‘assesses the employment and social impact of energy efficiency’. The report that was published in December 2015, underlines the increasing demand for high-skilled workers in jobs which involve auditing, consulting, organisation and consultation, such as managers of major building projects.

A new EU-funded project, Construct PV, is working on how to integrate photovoltaic (PV) systems into buildings from their very inception. Rather than panels being placed on roofs, this new technology is being used to replace parts of conventional building materials, such as roofs and facades. Construct PV develops customizable photovoltaic structures for opaque building surfaces for new buildings and buildings undergoing renovation.

CELSIUS is a Smart Cities project that illustrates how cities can save energy and helps them create a more self-sustaining energy economy by deploying district heating and cooling (DHC) systems. The overall aim of CELSIUS is to impact energy efficiency across Europe and contribute to reaching the EU's 2020 climate and energy goals. The European Commission is currently working on a heating and cooling strategy that will encompass DHC and innovative insulation product developments.

Speaking in Brussels before Christmas, Commissionr Miguel Arias Cañete, responsible for Climate Action, said that the current EU legislative targets would remain in place following the COP21 agreement in Paris.  He confirmed that it would be for the next European Commission to decide on whether to strengthen the 40% emissions reduction target for 2030 (agreed by EU leaders last year) after the first of the ‘five-year stock takes’ set up by COP21 had taken place.

The Regulation 1143/2014 on invasive alien species entered into force on 1st January 2015. The Regulation seeks to address the problem of invasive alien species to protect native biodiversity and ecosystem services and to minimize and mitigate the human health or economic impacts that these species can have. The Regulation foresees three types of interventions; prevention, early detection and rapid eradication, and management.