Environmental policy

  27 Debates

197 states at the Climate Change Conference in Katovice are discussing how to stop climate change, but time is running out. The Global Carbon Project has estimated that CO2 emissions will be 2.7 percent higher for 2018 than for 2017 - the biggest rise in seven years. What hurdles must be overcome in the fight against climate change?

The EU Commission's new climate strategy aims to make the EU 'climate neutral' by 2050, mainly by replacing oil, coal and gas with eco-friendly energy sources. In the run-up to the climate summit in Katowice some media are pushing for the EU and its member states to go even further, while others pin their hopes on future generations.

A citizens' initiative in Finland aimed at having a special tax on diesel cars abolished gained far more than the required 50,000 signatures within 24 hours. Now the parliament must address the issue. The initiative came about in response to a rise in the price of diesel fuel, which now costs as much as gasoline at many filling stations. Finnish commentators stress the advantages of diesel.

In a bid to slow down climate change and limit harmful emissions the Spanish government wants to ban the sale of vehicles with diesel, petrol and gas engines as of 2040 and take them off the roads entirely by 2050. Is the goal overambitious?

The EU Parliament voted on Wednesday in favour of banning throwaway plastic products. Prior to the vote researchers announced that they have detected plastic particles in human stool for the first time and now assume that there are no more plastic-free areas on the planet. But not all commentators are convinced that the decision passed by the MEPs will solve the problem.

The EU's environmental ministers have agreed on a compromise for CO2 emissions limits for new cars. They are to be 35 percent lower compared to 2021 levels by 2030. The EU Parliament had demanded a reduction of 40 percent, while the German government insisted on no more than 30 percent. Whereas for some the compromise doesn't go far enough, others ask whether it can be implemented at all.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned in its Special Report on Global Warming that the world is heating up faster than previously believed and with more drastic consequences. But the panel claims it is still "technically and economically possible" to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Commentators look at what needs to be done to achieve that goal.

The EU Parliament has declared war on CO2 emissions in transportation with new limits. From 2030 the CO2 emissions limit for new cars is to be on average 40 percent lower than for 2021. Negotiations with the EU Commission and the member states are next on the agenda. Is the Parliament jeopardising the future of Europe's automotive industry with its decision?

French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot announced his resignation in a live broadcast by radio station France Inter on Tuesday. The former environmental activist justified his decision saying that he felt that the government had left him "all alone" in his campaign for the environment. Many commentators find his actions understandable.

Beekeepers in Estonia have sounded the alarm after the death of millions of bees in the country in recent weeks. Government investigations into the first case of mass bee deaths have revealed that the bees were poisoned by a crop protection product used on a field of rapeseed. The Estonian press is shocked and decries modern man's alienation from nature.

With the One Planet Summit French President Macron has called for increased commitment on climate protection. More effort is needed to reach the climate targets agreed on two years ago in Paris, Macron said to the attending political leaders and private and institutional investors. While some journalists are critical of Macron's plans, others are delighted.

The diesel scandals as well as moves to ban diesel cars in several cities and other factors are raising the pressure to come up with a plan to combat air pollution and provide clean mobility. Europe's commentators examine the options.

Tropical Hurricane Irma has left a trail of destruction in the Caribbean and Florida, claiming at least 61 lives. Commentators criticise that manmade climate change is still being ignored and that some politicians have promised too much to the storm's many victims.

The EU member states are grappling over the issue of whether to relicense the weedkiller glyphosate, which is suspected of causing cancer in humans. Time is pressing as the current license expires on December 15. Commentators warn that consumer protection must be taken seriously and that the debate about the pros and cons of a ban should be transparent.

The EU Commission has presented a compromise proposal on CO2 emissions limits for carmakers: a binding quota for e-cars is off the table but the CO2 emissions of new cars are to be reduced by 30 percent by 2030 instead. According to media reports the car lobby and the German government put enormous pressure on EU Commissioners over the last couple of days to ease the regulations. Commentators are up in arms.

The UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn attended by almost 200 states comes to an end today, Friday. One main bone of contention was whether industrial countries should support poorer, developing states. Commentators have harsh words for the rich nations' lack of solidarity and take differing views of the coal phase-out initiative proposed by some countries.

The controversial weedkiller glyphosate can be sprayed on European crops for another five years, after 18 ouf of 28 countries voted in favour of the extension on Monday - with Germany's vote tipping the scales. While some observers are enraged by the way in which the decision was reached, others point out that the weedkiller shouldn't be demonised.

Islands of plastic in the oceans and a Chinese import ban on waste are forcing Europe to take action. The EU Commission has raised the possibility of a plastic tax to limit the use of the ubiquitous material. Not all commentators agree that this is the right step.

In more and more European countries voices demanding a ban on microplastics in cosmetics are growing louder. Finnish media see a ban as positive not just for the environment and people's health, pointing out that it could also be good for the economy.

In a bid to honour the Paris Climate Agreement, France's new Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot wants to ban sales of cars that consume petrol or diesel fuel by 2040. The country's media discuss how this target can be reached.

Three pesticides may no longer be used on open-air crops across Europe. A majority of EU member states voted in favour of banning neonicotinoids, one of the main factors held to be responsible for mass bee deaths. Are bees now adequately protected?

The EU Commission plans to tackle the plastic waste problem. Disposable products like plastic tableware, straws and cotton buds for which alternatives out of other materials exist are to be banned. Manufacturers of plastic products are also to be made to pay for their disposal and new subsidies will be introduced for recycling. This is a good initiative but it doesn't go far enough, according to press commentaries.

Just a few days after US President Trump announced the US's withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement the first UN Ocean Conference has begun in New York. Europe's press looks at what the conference can achieve, but also at the shortcomings of the Paris agreement.

In Stockholm, the red-green government wants to introduce a tiered flight tax as of next year. A holiday trip to Thailand would then cost about 40 euros more, a trip to London about eight euros more. The idea is to encourage people to use more climate-friendly means of transport. Sweden's commentators are divided in their opinions on this issue.

One country after another is making moves to ensure that diesel and petrol engines become a thing of the past: Paris, Madrid, Athens and Helsinki plan to ban their production by 2025, with London following suit in 2040. In Germany the cartel scandal that has hit the automotive industry has added fuel to the debate. But commentators see bans as the wrong approach for various reasons.

France's government is planning to enshrine corporate social and environmental responsibility in the law, following up on an idea that President Macron voiced some time ago. At the time Macron said he wanted to renew the whole concept of what constitutes a company. But can a new law achieve that?

Brussels has given the green light for Bayer to buy Monsanto. The merger between the German chemical giant and its US competitor can go ahead, subject to certain conditions. The US competition authorities have yet to approve the deal. Environmental activists and many media are appalled by the news.