EU urged towards a green, sustainable economy


A report by a coalition of environmental groups has called for the EU to invest in the green sector to bring about economic prosperity and boost green jobs. Alex Blackburne has more.

With a budget of €1 trillion, it’s fair to say that the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, has significant influence on the union’s economic development. With that in mind, an alliance of environmental bodies, including the WWF, Friends of the Earth and the European Environmental Bureau, has called for a portion of the money to be put towards advancing green sectors.

“Environmental sustainability and economic prosperity go hand in hand”, says the report.

“The next European Budget (2014–2020) is being decided in troubled times when we are faced with a triple crisis – the environmental, the social and the economic crisis.

“But such difficult timing also constitutes an opportunity: if smartly used, the next EU Budget can help Europe improve its economic stability and create more jobs in a period of rising unemployment while at the same time reducing its unsustainable ecological footprint.”

Green jobs could be boosted by as much as 320% by investment in four sectors – renewable energy, sustainable transport, management of the Natura 2000 network and energy savings in buildings, with half a million new roles created. This is all achievable with just a 14% share of the 2014–2020 budget (€14.75 billion). In contrast, Cohesion and Common Agricultural Policies (CAP) is expected to boast a 78% lion’s share of the 2014–2020 budget, worth €140 billion a year, and creating just over a million jobs. It’s clear which is the most cost-effective, and ultimately, more sustainable option.

Sébastien Godinot, chief economist with the WWF European Policy Office said, “Policy makers need to realise that by mainstreaming green investment in the next EU budget we can create more jobs and still achieve our strategic objectives.

“In this time of austerity, citizens demand that every cent they contribute to the EU budget, works harder and delivers more for Europe.

“The current budget is supporting activities that run contrary to our environmental policy goals. Where is the logic in that?”

The EU has responded positively to the report.

Fulai Sheng, senior economist with the UN Environmental Programme’s Green Economy Initiative, welcomed the report, saying, “The findings provide much needed analysis for EU policy makers to bolster the engine of job creation”.

The report will certainly provide EU delegates with something to think about when planning the 2014–2020 budget. Let’s hope they make the right and most sustainable choice. Blue & Green Tomorrow will keep you updated on the progress. In the meantime, you can contribute to a sustainable economy in the future by investing responsibly now. Ask your financial adviser about ethical investment or fill in our form and we’ll connect you to an ethical specialist who can help.