Green Economy in Europe
By Aivars Timofejevs
The climate challenge.
Latest developments in Europe and in the World have clearly indicated how serious are the problems with the climate change due to pollution and CO2 emissions. Global warming with the subsequent increase in severe weather conditions is becoming more evident in all countries. All the latest developments show a clear necessity for immediate action to fight the pollution problem and achieve a sustainable development of global community. To achieve this several initiatives have been developed by global leaders to decrease CO2 emissions and slow down the global warming. The increased pollution is determined by increased consumption worldwide so there is a clear need to change the economic structures in order to sustain the welfare and economic growth and at the same time ensure environmental neutrality and sustainability. In other words we need to find ways how reduce the environmental impact without harming the economy. In Europe the ultimate goal is to become environmentally neutral by 2050. In some countries the ambition is to achieve this goal even faster.
The environmental sustainability cannot be achieved without serious changes in the businesses and economics in general. We need to find new and innovative ways how to maintain our welfare and quality of life and become more sustainable. The environmental issues should be taken into account at every stage of product or service life cycle. This demands new way of thinking to be developed for all European citizens. Increased environmental consciousness has already created some pressure on the producers to become more sustainable. This has led to the change in priorities in decision making focusing more on the environmental aspects in all new investments or initiatives. All those changes also led to the development of new concepts where the Green Economy is one of the most important ones. So far there is no unified definition of the concept developed but one of the most popular is adapted from UNEP stating that: green economy is “one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. It is low carbon, resource efficient, and socially inclusive". The definition acts as a good guideline on main focusing areas where improvements can be achieved. First of all, it is related to carbon emissions. They should be assessed measured and the effort should be made to decrease the emissions in every step of economic activity. The demand for detailed information on CO2 emissions is growing from the customer side as well. Soon the carbon footprint will be indicated on every item that we purchase or service that we receive. At the same time the efforts should be made to preserve and preferably increase the natural habitats where CO2 is being absorbed. In other words, forests are becoming crucial for our future sustainability. Another important focusing area identified in the definition is resource efficiency. More attention should be paid to decrease the resource consumption. Here innovations play the crucial role. People and companies should look for new innovative ways to produce different products. Also new products should be invented that can replace the existing ones. Those products should provide the same benefits for the users and at the same time they should be more environmentally friendly and resource efficient. Last but not least the definition also states the importance of social inclusiveness. The society already is changing but more work and efforts are needed in the future to ensure equal rights and welfare for every member of the society. To sum up the green economy is our future standard that will allow us to balance environmental sustainability societal welfare and economic growth. To achieve that we all need to work together and find new and innovative ways to ensure that the ultimate sustainability goals are reached.