03 September 2010

Hot Air Rises at Talks and in Towns

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The European Union (EU) is failing to fulfil its environmental commitments in practically all areas, from protecting biodiversity to improving air quality in the cities, according to official studies released this month
This worrisome trend is confirmed by the European Commission, the bloc's governing body, in its latest Environment Policy Review released on Aug. 2.

In the document the EC says although many official environmental protection programmes have been launched and progress is evident in some areas, "further efforts are needed, in particular (to tackle) the loss of biodiversity."

The study states that only 17 percent of protected habitats and species have a good conservation status. And goes on to add: "Grasslands, wetlands and coastal habitats are the most vulnerable, mainly due to factors such as the decline in traditional patterns of agriculture, pressure by tourist development, and climate change."

In addition, the review warns, "The protection of soil biodiversity continues to present a challenge. The overexploitation of marine fisheries remains a threat to marine ecosystems, with some 45 percent of assessed European stocks falling outside safe biological limits."

The EC review also confirms the warnings of other studies: "On a global level, loss of biodiversity has reached alarming proportions." The study estimates that the global target to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 is unlikely to be met.

These and other findings led the EU environment commissioner, Janez Poto_nik, to urge European governments to increase their efforts on the issue. "A number of data and trends (in environmental protection) remain worrying. I see a clear need...for further EU and national policy measures to make Europe more resource efficient," Poto_nik said.

The review also points out that the quality of air in most European cities continues to be "bad". The exposure to particulate matter, especially ozone and other heavy polluters such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, remains high.

(IPS - Inter Press Service)

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