Europe still off mark over environment goals: Report

Europe still off mark over environment goals: Report

Europe still off mark over environment goals: Report

A European Environmental Agency (EEA) report warns that the continenet may fail to reach its ambitious environmental targets by 2050 amid setbacks. AP Photo.

Europe could miss several key targets for safeguarding its species, water, air and land, said a study that warned economic recovery would add to the pressure on natural resources.

While it has made great strides in recycling and greener energy, the continent has failed to stop habitat destruction, overfishing and pollution, said a five-yearly assessment by the European Environmental Agency (EEA).

“We continue to harm the natural systems that sustain our prosperity,” warned EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx.

The 28-nation European Union set itself the goal of living within ecological limits by 2050, but it was a “long way” from achieving this target, said the report.

The task will get tougher if the global economy and population numbers swell in the decades to come, as forecast.

“These developments raise the question of whether the planet’s ecological limits can sustain the economic growth upon which our consumption and production patterns rely,” said the report.

Europe’s ecological footprint – the area needed to provide resources and absorb waste – is already double its land area.

“Europe is not on track to meet its 2020 target of halting biodiversity loss,” said the report. Sixty percent of species assessed for the report, and 77 percent of habitat types, had a conservation status of “unfavorable.”

While freshwater quality has improved, half of Europe’s freshwater bodies were unlikely to meet the requirements for “good ecological status” in 2015, said the document.

More than 40 percent of rivers and coastal waters are affected by leaching of pesticides and fertilizers from farms, and 20-25 percent by pollution at the source – factories and sewage and wastewater plants.

“Marine and coastal biodiversity is a particular area of concern,” said the EEA, citing sea-floor damage, pollution, invasive species and acidification. In the Mediterranean, 91 percent of assessed stocks were overfished in 2014.