Environmental group WWF has urged the European Union (EU) to stop wasting money attempting to revive the current economy, and instead invest in a sustainable economy.
In its new report “From crisis to opportunity: Five steps to sustainable European economies”, published on 10 March, WWF claims that resource efficiency alone could generate per year the equivalent of the Juncker Investment Plan of over €300 billion for the EU economy.
The report was released ahead of a crucial vote on EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s €300 billion economic stimulus plan. 28 European Economic and Finance Ministers are meeting in Brussels this week to agree on the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) proposed by President Juncker to boost economic activity and job creation.
Ecological disasters “cost billions every year”
In line with key findings from the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) 2015 State of the Environment report launched recently, WWF’s report shows that the emerging ecological disaster is very likely to dwarf the current economic crisis.
Damages from floods have cost more than €150 billion over the past 10 years, air pollution costs around €537 billion every year and EU industries import every year more than €300 billion of raw materials no longer available in Europe.
Sébastien Godinot, WWF Economist and author of the report, called on Juncker and EU leaders to “look at the real symptoms of our troubled economies: diminishing natural resources and markets failing to take this into account.”
He added: ““Sustainable economies can bring huge benefits worth much more than Juncker’s Investment Plan every year and provide up to 20 million jobs by 2020. How? Largely by using less resources and energy, fixing market failures and protecting nature in Europe.”
The report references over 400 studies and reports by key institutions like the OECD, UNEP, World Bank, IMF, ILO and the EU Commission, economic advisors like McKinsey and Ecofys, and leading world economists like Lord Stern, Pavan Sukhdev, and Simon Kuznets, – all concluding that building a sustainable economy will more than offset the costs of dismantling the brown economy.
The five-step plan
The “five-step policy roadmap for Europe” contained in the report calls on EU member states to:
1. Update carbon price and energy and emissions targets
- With the aim of achieving: 40% energy efficiency; 45% renewables and 55% emissions reductions by 2030.
- Reform the carbon market to reach adequate carbon prices.
2. Improve resource efficiency and management
- Set a 2030 resource efficiency target.
- Value and protect our natural capital
- Produce and consume sustainably (circular economy).
3. Ensure a sustainable financial system and fiscal policies
- Stop environmentally harmful subsidies.
- Introduce environmental taxes.
- Make private finance support a real and sustainable economy.
4. EU should be a leader in global sustainable development
- Scale up public financing for global public goods.
- Ensure corporate reporting and accountability.
- Support the UN’s renewed Sustainable Development Goals.
5. Develop an “overarching new strategy” for Europe to 2050
- Set up five cross-cutting policies for eco-innovation, green jobs, green public procurement, beyond GDP measurement and consumer empowerment.
David Turley NNFCC’s lead consultant for Biobased feedstock said: “A key part of European policy is to decouple industrial growth from carbon emissions as part of a portfolio of measures to reduce the environmental impacts of energy use and develop more examples of circular economies capable of delivering greater material and resource use efficiency. Supporting the development of sustainable biobased materials and renewable energy as part of raft of measures to support moves towards a ‘greener economy’ can help to reduce the environmental impacts of products and energy production, while delivering important benefits to the economy in terms of job creation and development of high-tech innovation.”
He added that stimulating a bio-based economy “should not be seen as at odds with plans to support the fiscal economy.”
Lead Consultant – Biobased Feedstocks
Tel:+44 (0)1904 435182