Environmentally harmful subsidies: always with us
The so far largely insignificant moves of the EU to reduce and reform its environmentally harmful subsidies at Union and Member State level remain the “Achilles heel” of Europe’s global credibility. More on Funding for Nature.
As long as a great part of the EU’s budget is wasted for activities that jeopardise ecosystem protection and undermine long-term well-being of Europeans, public budget constraints can hardly be accepted as an excuse for not increasing environmental overseas development aid. EU subsidies also directly affect the state of the environment outside the continent, e.g. through the financially supported overcapacities of fishing fleets, incentives for using imported soy instead of domestically grown grass to feed European livestock, etc.
Ironically, EU Agriculture Ministers are using the argument of “global food security” against farming reform proposals. In reality, global food security is put at risk if Europe deprives its soils, water and biodiversity the ability to remain fertile and functional on the long-term. More on agriculture and the EU Biodiversity Strategy.
EU energy policy: not at the cost of global biodiversity
The efforts of the EU and many of its Member States to switch away from dirty fossil fuels to a low-carbon energy system are to be applauded, despite too slow progress so far: climate change is the greatest long-term threat to biodiversity. However existing policy frameworks to a low-carbon energy policy, so far, lack clear safeguards for ecosystems, within and outside of Europe.
The objective to achieve 20% renewable energy supply by 2020 is of key importance. However, the EU has failed to implement legislative conditions to ensure the sustainability of renewable energy – which is a particular problem as regards biomass, whose production can result in devastating harm to essential ecosystem services and biodiversity around the world.
At the same time, the 10% “de facto biofuel” target for the transport sector which the EU has adopted, remains one of the most harmful and counterproductive EU policy decisions taken in recent years. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence and political opposition, the European Commission, driven by lobby groups, refuses to accept that this objective has already triggered massive damages to biodiversity, ecosystems and the climate, in particular through indirect land-use change (ILUC). ILUC has to be urgently addressed by the biofuels sustainability criteria (Biofuels in Kenya).