(03/05/07) 3,5 miljoen jobs in de Europese eco-industrie — Commissie gaat voor meer

De Europese Commissie publiceerde een rapport over de trends en de ontwikkelingen mbt. eco-innovatie in de Europese Unie. Schone en milieuvriendelijke innovatie moet gebeuren op grote schaal. Europese ondernemingen zijn wereldleider op diverse milieumarkten en de huidige Europese milieuwetgeving is een van de drijvende krachten daarachter.

De eco-industrie is goed voor 2,1% van het BNP van de EU. 3,5 miljoen mensen werken in de sector. Op wereldschaal is de EU goed voor een derde van de sector.

Toch is dit in vele gevallen nog een nichesector. De Europese Commissie vindt dat dit moet veranderen.

Innovation must do more for the environment

The European Commission today published a report on trends and developments in eco-innovation in the European Union. While confirming the strong growth of eco-industries the report emphasises that the state of the environment and climate change call for the take-up of clean and environmentally-friendly innovation on a massive scale. The report highlights that European companies are world leaders in several environmental markets and that current environmental legislation acts as a driver for promoting innovation in these markets. Based on the EU Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP), the report proposes to focus on a number of priorities and actions that will raise demand for environmental technologies and eco-innovation.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "Eco-innovation is a central element in the fight against climate change. It will bring us a long way towards meeting our targets of reducing energy consumption by 20% and increasing the use of renewable energy by 20% by 2020. However, we have less than 13 years to achieve these goals.It is vital that the full capacity for eco-innovation be exploited without delay. Only through eco-innovation can we fundamentally change our patterns of production and consumption."

European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik added "Technology is a major part of the answer to our energy and environmental challenges. It has a crucial role in improving energy efficiency, an area where we can and must act now.

ECO-INNOVATION PART OF THE SOLUTION

Eco-industries in the European Union have grown in recent years to become a viable and prominent force in the European economy. Today they represent about 2.1% of its Gross Domestic Product and account for some 3.5 million jobs. About three quarters of these jobs are found in the water and waste management sectors and the remainder in other areas such as air pollution control, soil remediation, renewable energy, and recycling. Internationally, the European sector fares well and constitutes about one third of the world market share in eco-industries.

The European Union is in a strong position to lead the way in using the powers of innovation to meet today's environmental challenges. Indeed, European companies are considered the most sustainable in 13 out of 18 major economic sectors. However, this is not enough. Eco-innovation must become pervasive across all industries if we are to overcome the challenges we face.

TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

There is a need for compelling forces to guide industry towards a sustainable future. The efforts of companies working on their own will not be sufficient. Collective action by the European Union and its Member States is necessary.

The European Union's Environmental Technology Action Plan (ETAP) was launched by the Commission in 2004 as a way of channelling efforts by the EU and Member States towards common goals and to serve as a catalyst for change. The aim of ETAP is to stimulate eco-innovation and encourage the take-up of environmental technologies on a broad scale. The focus of the plan is to foster greater demand for environmental technologies and to create a fertile ground for eco-innovation.

By 2013, ETAP will have been instrumental in channelling over €12 billion towards eco-innovation projects.These projects focus on developing industrial processes and business practices based on the life-cycle approach. They also concentrate on developing products which are more environmentally-friendly. The wind power sector, for example, owes much of its success to research and development projects funded by the European Union.

THE LOW-HANGING FRUIT STRATEGY

The success of the wind power sector must be emulated in other areas. Too many environmental technologies remain in small niche markets. Ensuring greater take-up of environmental technologies which already exist or are just entering the market could provide substantial environmental gains.

Measures such as green procurement and standardisation can stimulate demand for environmental technologies. In the short-term these policies need to focus on those sectors which can yield large environmental benefits quickly and easily. These include construction, food and drink, and private transport. It is estimated that these sectors account for 70 to 80% of all environmental impacts.

THE ROADMAPS

The eco-innovation roadmaps drawn up by Member States show the actions that individual Member States are adopting. Taken together these roadmaps are useful tools which give an overview of the development, promotion and take-up of environmental technologies in the European Union. They also provide the foundation for the sharing and championing of promising practices that can have a powerful multiplier effect throughout the European Union.

The ETAP report concludes by pointing out a number of actions the European Union and Member States should focus on. These include promoting green procurement, focusing on sectors with high gains, setting performance targets, and creating an observatory on eco-innovation.

More information on the Environmental Technologies Action Plan

GroenDe enige partij die sociaal én milieuvriendelijk is.

www.groen.be

De Groenen/EVAGroenen en Europese Vrije Alliantie in het Europees Parlement.

www.greens-efa.eu

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