An assessment of the performance of the Austrian Presidency of the EU has found that it was big on tackling plastic but less effective in dealing with water pollution and agriculture.
The assessment recognises that the Presidency worked hard to reach a compromise among EU governments on single use plastics, sending a strong signal that the EU is committed to addressing marine litter and getting plastic out of our oceans.
However, despite the positive action on plastics and climate, the document – published today by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) – notes that the Austrian government fell short of the mark when it comes to tackling water pollution and the impact of industrial agriculture.
The EEB is the largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations in Europe with more than 150 members in over 30 countries.
The assessment, prepared in cooperation with Seas at Risk, was adopted by the EEB Board which has representatives from more than 30 countries and several European networks. It is based on the ‘Ten Green Tests’ laid out at the start of the Austrian Presidency.
In a year that saw scientists from the International Panel on Climate Change issue a stark warning that climate change’s impact is more severe than was previously thought, the EEB notes that the Austrian government was ambitious on tackling climate change – notably by wrapping up negotiations on CO2 emission standards for passenger vehicles and by playing an important role at the Climate COP in Katowice in December.
However, commenting on the assessment, EEB Secretary General Jeremy Wates said that the Austrian government should have done more to be consistent on climate action:
“The Austrian Presidency played a positive role in the global fight against single-use plastics and acting on climate change in some areas. However, it missed the chance to echo the Parliament’s call for a significant increase in the EU’s only funding instrument dedicated to environment and climate action, LIFE; nor did it push for the much larger sums of public money that are spent on agricultural subsidies to be used to ensure that food is produced in ways that our planet can handle. If we ignore the impact agriculture has on our climate we will not limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and efforts in other areas will be in vain.”
Notes for editors:
Every six months at the rotation of the EU Presidency, the EEB publishes an assessment of the outgoing presidency and Ten Green Tests for the incoming presidency, prepared in cooperation with Seas at Risk. The assessment distinguishes between effort and outcome, and also takes account of what is within the power of a Presidency to achieve.