Europe’s environment ‘at a tipping point’, EU agency says

(EurActiv, 4 Dec 2019) Europe faces environmental challenges “of unprecedented scale and urgency,” according to a comprehensive overview of air, land and water ecosystems published on Wednesday (4 December) by the European Environment Agency.

Even though some progress was made in areas like air and water pollution, these are “not nearly enough” to meet the EU’s long-term goals, according to the EEA’s ‘State of the Environment’ 2020 report.

Overall trends have not improved since the EEA’s last report in 2015, the agency said.

“Europe’s environment is at a tipping point,” said Hans Bruyninckx, the EEA’s executive director, citing methane emissions from thawing permafrost, melting ice and forest degradation as one of the dangerous feedback loops leading to accelerated heating of the planet.

“Sudden and irreversible shifts of this sort could severely disrupt nature’s ability to deliver essential services such as supplying food and resources, maintaining clean water and fertile soils, and providing a buffer against natural disasters,” the report says.

But runaway global warming is not the only dangerous tipping point Europe is faced with. Issues related to natural resource depletion, biodiversity collapse and climate change are interconnected and reinforce each other, Bruyninckx told reporters on Monday, ahead of the report’s launch.

“If we fail on one, we fail on the other two,” he warned.

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EurActiv, 4 Dec 2019: Europe’s environment ‘at a tipping point’, EU agency says