Tag: European Union

EU warns of persistent air quality violations

5 countries now on notice face potential legal action

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Clouds and haze over Vienna, Austria, where particulate air pollution often exceeds standards set to protect human health. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

Five large EU countries are on warning after repeatedly failing to meet air pollution  standards for nitrogen oxide, a precursor to smog and a serious health risk in and of itself. If Member States fail to act within two months, the Commission may decide to take the matter to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Studies have shown that more than 400,000 people die prematurely each year due to poor air quality, while millions more suffer from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Persistently high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) caused almost 70 000 premature deaths in Europe in 2013, which was almost three times the number of deaths by road traffic accidents in the same year.

Because of the persistent breaches, the European Commission this week sent final warning to  Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, urging those countries to improve air quality and safeguard public health.

Continue reading “EU warns of persistent air quality violations”

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Will Europe deliver on its Paris climate promises?

EU presents detailed ‘next-steps’ assessment

Global warming map February 2016
As global temperatures surge to record highs, countries are trying to figure out how to implement the Paris climate agreement.

By Bob Berwyn

The global climate change agreement reached in Paris late last year may not be signed, sealed and delivered just yet, but the European Union is determined to maintain the momentum and goodwill generated at the summit. Earlier this month, the European Commission completed an assessment of the deal aimed at determining what the EU must do to implement the agreement.

“We have the deal. Now we need to make it real,” said EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete. “For the EU, this means completing the 2030 climate and energy legislation without delay, signing and ratifying the agreement as soon as possible, and continuing our leadership in the global transition to a low-carbon future.” Continue reading “Will Europe deliver on its Paris climate promises?”

EU air quality regulations save thousands of lives each year

Cutting pollution improves public health

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Staff Report

People everywhere like to complain about excessive government regulation, and the European Union is no exception. But it’s clear, from a new University of Leeds study, that air quality rules in the EU have saved thousands of lives in recent decades.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, shows that EU policies have led to a 35 percent reduction of fine particles in the atmosphere over the period 1970 to 2010, which has improved public health across Europe, preventing about 80,000 premature deaths each year. Continue reading “EU air quality regulations save thousands of lives each year”

Refugee stream intensifies; 400 deaths already in 2016

2,000 people per day trying to cross the Mediterranean to safety

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Refugees wait to cross from Slovenia to Austria at Spielfelden in Nov. 2015. Does this picture represent the common European principles of dignity, solidarity and human rights that the European Union was founded upon? @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

As the conflict in Syria reaches new levels of brutality, the flow of refugees from the region toward Europe has accelerated, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. By latest count, more than 80,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Europe by boat during the first six weeks of 2016, more than in the first four months of 2015, despite wintry weather and rough seas, the UNHCR officials said Friday.

Already this year, more than 400 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean. Right now, about 2,000 people are trying to cross the waters each day. Last year, the numbers didn’t reach this level until July.

“The majority of those arriving in January 2016, nearly 58 percent, were women and children … one in three people arriving to Greece were children as compared to just 1 in 10 in September 2015,” UNHCR’s chief spokesperson Melissa Fleming said during a press briefing in Geneva. Fleming said more than 91 per cent of those arriving in Greece come from the world’s top ten refugee producing countries, including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Continue reading “Refugee stream intensifies; 400 deaths already in 2016”

Are global CO2 emissions leveling off?

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When will global CO2 emissions peak?

EU achieves big cuts; U.S. still largest per capita emitter

Staff Report

Global CO2 emissions slowed dramatically the past few years, potentially signalling the wane of the fossil fuel era, according to a new report from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

The carbon tally shows that after a decade when CO2 emissions grew at about 4 percent annually, the pace slowed significantly in 2012 (0.8 percent), 2013 (1.5 percent). Continue reading “Are global CO2 emissions leveling off?”

Global warming: New EU research projects frequent life-threatening heatwaves

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It’s all but certain that global warming will result in more frequent life-threatening heatwaves.

How hot will it get?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Life-threatening heatwaves like the blazing Russian summer of 2010 will occur as often as every two years across southern Europe, Africa and the Americas if global warming continues at its present pace.

Climate scientists already know that more heatwaves are one of the most certain consequences of more heat-trapping pollution in the atmosphere, and a new index developed by the European Union’s Joint Research Center provides a way to compare heat waves over space and time. It takes into account both the duration and intensity of heat waves and can serve as a benchmark for evaluating the impacts of future climate change. Continue reading “Global warming: New EU research projects frequent life-threatening heatwaves”

Congress tries to thwart EU action on airline emissions

U.S. airlines don’t want to play by EU rules, and Congress has their back.

Bill would allow U.S. airlines to disobey duly passed carbon cap regulations

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Congress didn’t accomplish much the past few months, but in one of its last acts before recessing for the upcoming campaign season, the U.S. Senate did manage to throw a monkey wrench into European Union plans to try and cap greenhouse gas emissions from passenger jets.

That’s symbolic for a Congress that has been focused primarily on obstruction for the past two years, and shows how U.S. politicians are out of touch with the global move to try and tackle global warming. That’s probably why the bill was was passed under cover of the night — at 2 a.m. Saturday, to be exact, when nobody was looking. Continue reading “Congress tries to thwart EU action on airline emissions”