Why a sustainable economy is not a visionary idea but a reality for Europe
2014 was a turnaround year for global investments in renewable energy, according to a recent UNEP report. The sector registered a 17% increase totalling 270 billion USD, mainly in China, US and Japan. What about Europe? Here investments stalled at 57.5 billion USD, mainly due to uncertain government support policies that discouraged investors.
This is only one example in a series of missed economic opportunities and structural inefficiencies that Europe will have to fix to rapidly move its economy in the right direction.
WWF report “From crisis to opportunity: Five steps to European sustainable economies” shows why a new economic path towards sustainability is both a necessity and a huge opportunity for Europe, and presents a concrete and ambitious policy roadmap for EU and Member State decision-makers to follow.
Evidence strongly suggests that the current crisis is systemic and forces us to shift to a new socio-economic model. The EU has an unsustainably high ecological footprint of almost twice the world average, and the emerging ecological disaster is very likely to dwarf the current economic crisis. Damages from floods have cost more than 150 billion euros over the past 10 years, air pollution costs around 537 billion euros every year and EU industries import more than 500 billion euros every year of raw materials no longer available in Europe.
However Europe has a huge potential for change and the power to lead this global economic revolution. The benefits would be enormous: resource efficiency alone could bring our economy per year the equivalent of the three-year Juncker Investment Plan: up to 310 billion euro of savings on resource costs (Mc Kinsey 2013).
This new path towards sustainable well-being is the new agenda beyond austerity that EU leaders need in order to lead the way out of crisis, deepen European integration and re-connect with the aspirations of their citizens.
The important news is that all this is achievable and WWF’s policy roadmap outlines the five key steps that will make it possible for Europe:
- A new strategic vision for Europe;
- A bold climate and energy framework;
- A complete resource efficiency and management framework;
- A supportive fiscal and financial framework; and
- A renewed international leadership.
WWF believes that building sustainable economies is not only the best EU option but it is also a responsibility we have towards our citizens, other countries and future generations that will inherit this planet.
The WWF report has reached the desks of all the main European policy makers in Brussels; we now we need bold people to follow and implement it.
Read WWF's N(EU)ws April 2015