In a meeting with environment and energy ministers from other European countries yesterday, Sweden’s Minister of Environment, Andreas Carlgren, said that global economic problems should in no way slow movement to address climate change. Other leading European ministers agreed.
Economic problems today are in many ways a result of environmental missteps in the past. If we want a healthy economy in the future, we have to take the environment into account more than we have. The Swedish Minister of the Environment agrees and says that there should be no hesitation to combat climate change due to the current economic situation.
Stavros Dimas, Minister of the Environment for the EU, agreed full heartedly with Carlgren and said that the economic situation was an “opportunity for decisive action.” In the same manner as US leaders, Dimas said that a new economy focusing on climate friendly energy and policies was the way to a successful and safe future. He wants Europe to lead in “the fast-growing markets for environment technologies, services and products.”
On the same day, the European Commission accepted the agreement made by the Environment Council regarding industrial emissions. The agreement is now going to European Parliament for a second reading. Dimas said: “Industrial emissions in the EU are still very high. It is absolutely vital that these emissions be reduced, especially by those industrial plants that pollute the most. Today’s agreement brings us one step closer to substantial emission reductions from industrial plants, which will decrease the exposure of European citizens to harmful pollutants and significantly improve the health of the environment.”
The international agreement on industrial emissions includes making “best available techniques” easier to implement (and thus, much more widely implemented), tightening minimum emission limits in some industries (which is expected “to reduce yearly health expenditure by 7 to €28 billion and prevent 13,000 premature deaths a year”), introducing standards for environmental inspection, and making permit reviews more effective.
The EU states that the agreement will also help businesses and allow for easier public involvement. “The agreement reached today will also reduce competition distortions between companies, lessen the administrative burden faced by business, and provide the public easier access to information.”
EU countries are moving forward to address climate change, and are not breaking for an instant because of the economic crisis. Will the US move ahead as well with a strong climate bill, or will big business and old industry refuse to take similar steps?
Image credit: 5348 Franco via flickr under a Creative Commons license