ENDS Europe Daily
December 06, 2019
 

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Scientists in last ditch bid to defend Water Framework Directive
Scientists in last ditch bid to defend Water Framework Directive

06 Dec 2019

The EU's main legislation for protecting freshwater ecosystems must not be weakened by a current policy review, according to a statement signed by some 500 scientists and a dozen international organisations representing thousands more

Read More
 
RELATED: Hydropower ‘craze’ threatens Europe's last pristine river ecosystems
 
 

Latest news

 
EU bans pesticides linked to brain damage

Member state representatives have voted to ban two neurotoxic pesticides following warnings from the European Food Safety Agency that they do not meet the criteria for having their licences renewed

Read More
 
RELATED: ‘We can fix this’: Timmermans issues call-to-arms after bleak EEA report
 
Mediterranean countries agree to reduce sulphur emissions from ships

After years of negotiations, Mediterranean countries have agreed to designate the region as an Emission Control Area at the International Maritime Organization in order to reduce air pollution from shipping

Read More
 
RELATED: Mediterranean countries set to agree on halting marine plastic pollution
 
Climate activists accuse EU of blocking access to justice

A group of activists attempting to force the EU to adopt more ambitious climate targets has accused the European Parliament and EU Council of “pushing citizens out” of the bloc’s legal jurisdiction

Read More
 
RELATED: EU public still faces barriers to environmental info, NGO says
 
Water sector must move towards circular economy, argue EU regulators

Europe’s water sector must embrace greater environmental sustainability, place more emphasis on water reuse and be better at informing and involving citizens, regulators said at their first forum in Rome on Tuesday

Read More
 
RELATED: Hydropower ‘craze’ threatens Europe's last pristine river ecosystems
 
 

Inside Brussels

 
Interview: EEA head Hans Bruyninckx on the European Green Deal, the EU budget and eco-friendly ‘creative destruction’
Interview: EEA head Hans Bruyninckx on the European Green Deal, the EU budget and eco-friendly ‘creative destruction’

06 Dec 2019

With the European Environment Agency warning that time is running out for Europe to address the ever worsening climate and environment crises, executive director Hans Bruyninckx tells ENDS he is optimistic about the new European Commission, with the planned European Green Deal showing ‘a real shift in emphasis’

Read More
 
RELATED: Interview: Cefic head Marco Mensink on innovation, enforcement and low hanging fruit
 
 
Interview: Climate Investment Funds head Mafalda Duarte on batteries, the green taxonomy and the need for EU climate leadership
Interview: Climate Investment Funds head Mafalda Duarte on batteries, the green taxonomy and the need for EU climate leadership

05 Dec 2019

Mafalda Duarte, head of Climate Investment Funds, talks to ENDS about the latest green technology shifts, the state of international climate finance and the EU's potential to be a global climate leader

Read More
 
RELATED: A decarbonised central Europe ‘will not happen without natural gas’
 
 

Most read

 
‘We can fix this’: Timmermans issues call-to-arms after bleak EEA report Read More
 
Policy briefing: the just transition fund Read More
 
Member states commit to a green finance strategy as agreement reached on green taxonomy Read More
 
Interview: CAN director Wendel Trio on COP25, Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion Read More
 
 
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Trading carbon credits from nature sparks fiery debate at UN talks
 
Cop25 Bankrolled by Big Polluters
 
The necessity of pulling carbon dioxide out of the air
 
See how global warming has changed the world since your childhood
 
 

Document Watch

 
European Green deal at a glance - EP
 
Position on chemical recycling - FEAD
 
 

Today's news in full

Scientists in last ditch bid to defend Water Framework Directive
Robert Hodgson, 06 Dec 2019

The EU's main legislation for protecting freshwater ecosystems must not be weakened by a current policy review, according to a statement signed by some 500 scientists and a dozen international organisations representing thousands more

The European Commission is expected to unveil next week the outcome of a 'fitness check' of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), potentially leading to amendment proposals – an event that is likely to be overshadowed by the unveiling of a ‘European Green Deal’ on 11 December.

The scientists stress the “holistic” nature and potential economic, social and public health benefits of the legislation, adopted in 2000. “For further improvements in water quality and quantity to be achieved, implementation needs a new impetus in member states and from the European Commission, not changes to the policy design,” the statement reads.

They are joining a growing chorus of protest from environmentalists who fear pressure from industry and some governments – who want the implementation deadline for reaching water quality goals postponed beyond 2027 – might sway the EU executive in its appraisal of the existing law.

The European Environment Agency last year found widespread failure to implement the legislation, with three-fifths of Europe's surface waters excessively polluted, while the Commission itself subsequently reached a similar conclusion and warned that meeting the 2027 deadline would be “very challenging”.

Andreas Baumüller, head of natural resources at WWF’s European Policy Office said EU members and business lobbies had been using the legislative review to push for weaker environmental standards.

“The European Commission’s silence has been deafening, and it has continued to allow the impact of the WFD to be gutted by poor implementation and abuse of exemptions,” Baumüller said.

robert.hodgson@haymarket.com

Follow-up: Scientists4WFD statement.

EU bans pesticides linked to brain damage
Simon Pickstone, 06 Dec 2019

Member state representatives have voted to ban two neurotoxic pesticides following warnings from the European Food Safety Agency that they do not meet the criteria for having their licences renewed

The pesticides in question, chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl, are particularly widely used to protect citrus fruits from insects, with several southern European countries reported to have been opposed to the ban.

Nevertheless, members of the Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCOPAFF) voted on Friday to approve a proposal from the European Commission not to renew either substance, which are classified as posing a risk to unborn children.

Health and environment campaigners welcomed the vote, which bans the use of the two pesticides beyond February 2020, as a major victory. 

“Today, we congratulate the Commission and member states for putting human health, particularly that of our children, above industry interests and private profit,” said Angeliki Lyssimachou of Pesticide Action Network Europe. “It took an overwhelming amount of evidence - showing that chlorpyrifos insecticides may cause brain toxicity in children - for the European Commission to propose a ban.”

Genon Jensen, the head of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), said the new Commission must commit to “decreasing Europe’s dependency on pesticides and addressing remaining loopholes in evaluation processes”.

Commission executive vice-president Frans Timmermans told reporters this week that the EU executive “cannot afford not to look at pesticides” as part of its European Green Deal, which will be presented next week.  

Green MEP Sven Giegold sounded a note of caution, warning there was a risk that the Commission would “accept broad exemptions from member states” which, as with neonicotinoids, would allow them to keep licensing the pesticides.

simon.pickstone@haymarket.com

Follow-up: HEAL factsheet.

Mediterranean countries agree to reduce sulphur emissions from ships
Claudia Delpero, 06 Dec 2019

After years of negotiations, Mediterranean countries have agreed to designate the region as an Emission Control Area at the International Maritime Organization in order to reduce air pollution from shipping

The decision was made this week in Naples at the conference of the parties to the Barcelona Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean.

Under IMO rules, from 1 January ships must stop using fuels containing more than 0.5% sulphur unless they are equipped with systems to clean up exhaust fumes. In Emission Control Areas (ECAs) such as the English Channel, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, however, the amount can be lowered to 0.1%.

France and Italy had previously pushed for an ECA in the Mediterranean, but encountered opposition from Cyprus, Greece and Malta.

Elisabeth Borne, France’s environment minister, welcomed this week’s decision as “a turning point” showing the “collective awareness” of Mediterranean countries.

An environmental coalition of environmental groups including Italy’s Cittadini per l’Aria, Germany’s NABU, Birdlife Malta, France Nature Environnement, Greece’s Ornithologiki and Spain’s Ecologistas en Acción also welcomed the agreement. But they criticised the delay in making the decision, noting that the new limits will not be in force until at least 2024, because the roadmap requires additional studies and the ECA can only be established at the IMO in 2022. 

Anna Gerometta, President of Italian group Cittadini per l’Aria, said that speeding up the process “would have guaranteed Mediterranean port cities better air quality much earlier, while ship owners could have put in place more strategic long-term industrial plans”. 

NABU’s Sönke Diesener added that “policymakers should not waste a single day to reduce air pollution from ships in the region”. 

The coalitions also called for cuts in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions, a request supported by a recent European Parliament resolution

Spain’s Ecologistas en Acción recalled that shipping emissions account for up to 40% of air pollution in Mediterranean coastal cities. According to a study published by the French government earlier this year, turning the Mediterranean into an ECA could reduce SOx levels by 77%, NO2 by up to 76% and particulate matter by up to 20%, preventing about 6,000 premature deaths annually and saving €8-14bn in health costs.

With the adoption of a ministerial declaration, Mediterranean countries also agreed to “achieve 100% plastic waste collection and recycling by 2025” and to increase Marine Protected Areas coverage to 10% by the end of 2020.

Giuseppe Di Carlo, Director of the WWF Mediterranean Initiative, commented: “We consider today as the beginning of a new effort to halt nature loss in the Mediterranean. Yet, we won't measure results based on the endorsed ministerial declaration's commitments, but on progress and actions… in the years to come.”

news@endseurope.com 

Follow-up: Naples Declaration, France and Italy statements, NGOs press release (in Italian) and French government study (French).

Climate activists accuse EU of blocking access to justice
Simon Pickstone, 06 Dec 2019

A group of activists attempting to force the EU to adopt more ambitious climate targets has accused the European Parliament and EU Council of “pushing citizens out” of the bloc’s legal jurisdiction

Both EU institutions said this week that representatives of the ‘People’s Climate Case’, which is challenging the bloc’s current climate change targets, should not be able to take legal action at the European Court of Justice (ECJ). 

The ECJ’s General Court had ruled in favour of the Parliament and Council’s arguments in May, saying there was no “standing to bring an action against a measure of general application” because the plaintiffs were not unique in being affected by the climate crisis. 

The institutions’ latest comments are a formal response to an appeal filed by the plaintiffs - made up of 10 families and the Saami Youth Association from Sweden. 

The European Parliament argued that “whilst the Charter of Fundamental Rights reaffirmed the fundamental rights on which an individual may rely on, that does not make the rights ‘individualised’ or ‘personal’”. Along with the Council, it argued that the plaintiffs should go through national courts before a case can be referred to the ECJ. 

However, the activists say that national courts would have “no reason” to refer a case to the Luxembourg-based court because they are seeking in the first instance to challenge EU-wide targets.

“The EU keeps defending a paradox that the more serious damage is [caused] by the EU’s laws and thus the more persons are harmed, the less their rights should be an issue for direct action at European courts,” said Gerd Winter, a lawyer for the People’s Climate Case.

His colleague Roda Verheyen added that the Parliament and Council’s new statements are not in keeping with the “numerous declarations” made by EU leaders to tackle the climate crisis. “Today, it is simply unacceptable that instead of providing legal protection, these institutions try to push citizens out of the EU jurisdiction,” she said. 

It comes as a new report by the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) has said that global installations of renewable energy capacity will have to double by 2030 from what has been committed under countries’ current nationally determined contributions for the Paris Agreement if the world is to align with its pledges under the Paris Agreement. 

“Increasing renewable energy targets is absolutely necessary,” said IRENA’s director-general Francesco La Camera in advance of a report to be released next week at the Madrid climate summit. 

“Much more is possible. There is a decisive opportunity for policymakers to step up climate action by raising ambition on renewables, which are the only immediate solution to meet rising energy demand whilst decarbonising the economy and building resilience”.

simon.pickstone@haymarket.com 

Follow-up: People’s Climate Case announcement, IRENA announcement.

Water sector must move towards circular economy, argue EU regulators
Nadia Weekes, 06 Dec 2019

Europe’s water sector must embrace greater environmental sustainability, place more emphasis on water reuse and be better at informing and involving citizens, regulators said at their first forum in Rome on Tuesday

Summoned by European regulators’ body WAREG, water stakeholders met to discuss implementing the EU’s water and wastewater legislation and to identify the main stumbling blocks to full compliance across the bloc. The forum comes ahead of the imminent publication by the European Commission of a ‘fitness check’ report on the 20-year-old Water Framework Directive.

Water utilities are increasingly getting involved in non-water activities ranging from energy production to fertiliser sales. This forces regulators to review their approach to tariffs, and also calls for more technological and organisational innovation. A move towards a risk-based approach would be extremely beneficial for water utilities and consumers alike, according to WAREG’s president, Andrea Guerrini. This should apply to both the recast of the drinking water directive and the water reuse regulation, he said. 

Reusing wastewater would represent a “true revolution”, according to Guerrini. “But it’s essential to identify who pays and what they pay for.” He pointed out that each country uses its own methodology to calculate costs, and this is where regulators can make the greatest difference. Guerrini has argued that greater harmonisation is essential to overcome Europe’s patchwork of rules and tariff methodologies.

While there are significant differences among the 26 countries that are currently members of WAREG, they face similar challenges such as a lack of infrastructure investment, poor water quality, and funding water services for less-affluent customers. 

Italy’s water (also waste and energy) regulator, ARERA, has pledged to host this forum every two years. ARERA’s president, Stefano Besseghini, said that “dialogue and discussion among regulators are the foundation of stable rules and consumer protection”. 

nadia.weekes@haymarket.com 

Follow-up: WAREG and five-year report.

 
 

 
Senior Permitting Officer – Industry Regulation Environment Agency, Solihull, West Midlands
EIA Principal/Senior Consultant – Prestigious Planning Consultancy JSM Associates, Central London
Specialist Advisor, Air Quality Monitoring Natural Resources Wales, Cardiff (Caerdydd)
Officer 2 Industry & Waste Regulation Natural Resources Wales, Llandarcy
Delicensing Assistant Project Manager Nuclear Works and Magnox, Harwell, Didcot
 
 
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