The G7 summit in Cornwall, United Kingdom has just ended and has laid the groundwork for the most important environmental objectives, although the transition towards a greener world may be a slow process. Among the many topics on the table, world leaders gathered to discuss the loss of biodiversity resulting from environmental and human related events. Biodiversity is important as each species contributes to a balanced and healthy ecosystem. Pollinators form an integral park of this process and should they disappear, over a third of the food consumed could no longer exist. Ultimately, lives in the present and in the future are at the heart of the matter. Climate change was another alarming point discussed in the summit. Extreme events such as floods in Germany and China, the fires in Siberia, and the new heat records of 49.5 °C in Vancouver could become increasingly frequent.

The G7 focused on net zero and on reaching the temperature increase limit of 1.5 °C through transition, investment, conservation, and accountability policies. It aims to preserve the most fragile natural habitats and communities, while also investing in order to achieve their set goals. On this wave, the European Union immediately took the reins, putting forward concrete measures, such a large budget expected in the 2021-2027 programming period. The cohesion package, which includes Interreg, the Regional and Cohesion Funds, will allocate at least 30% to the climate, circular economy, and investments aimed at sustainable growth and job creation. These grants do not include investments related to nuclear energy or fossil fuels, except for the transition from coal to natural gas.

The European Union is adopting binding measures, such as reducing greenhouse gases from 40% to 55% by 2030, with a limit of 225 million tons of CO2, to address the climate emergency. By 2050, the goal is a climate-neutral Europe, in line with the Paris Agreement. Many critics argue that more concrete action is needed in the near future. In order to transition into a more sustainable future, greener infrastructures, improvement in air, soil and water quality, and the reorganization of food production are critical. In the European Green Deal, the well-being of citizens is the key to a prosperous and fair society with a competitive, sustainable, and inclusive economy.

The elements of the Green Deal

The collective progress towards the 2050 target will be monitored through a scientific advisory committee in 2023 and every five years thereafter. In line with their ambitions, Europe aims to be the first climate neutral continent by 2050. The 24-page document of the European Green Deal forms part of the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda. This long-term vision encourages new habits of consumption and gives new impulses to public and private investments through a virtuous circular economy model and innovative projects. This model is the guarantee of products based on the same values and methodologies, preventing the spread of items harmful to the EU market, in particular in the textile, electronics, plastics, construction sectors. As for plastics, particular attention is given to microplastics, and to the advantage of biodegradable and bio-based plastics, therefore single use. The commission also ensures that the waste cycle remains within the European Economic Community, so as to avoid transporting it outside the EU and reducing related crimes.

Edited by Andrea Ruffoni

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