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On 17 November 2017, at the Clean Air Forum taking place in Paris the Commission and the EU Environment Agency launched a new Air Quality Index which allows citizens to monitor air quality in real time. The Commission also published an Air Quality Atlas, a tool developed by the Commission's Joint Research Centre that maps the origins of fine particulate matter, such as dust, smoke, soot, pollen and soil particles, in EU cities. The new European Air Quality Index has a user-friendly interactive map that shows the local air quality situation, based on five key pollutants that harm people's health and the environment: particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), ground-level ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). The Air Quality Atlas provides information on the geographical and sectorial sources of air pollution for the 150 biggest cities in Europe. It shows that pollutant emissions in cities originate mainly different human activities; and that transport, agriculture, industry and residential heating and responsible for the largest part.
The maps show the development of nitrate pollution in rivers. The evaluations are part of the Nitrate Reports 2008, 2012 and 2016 on the EU Nitrates Directive (91/676 / EEC). The 2016 report also includes the development of phosphorus exposure for the first time. In addition to the identification of the trend and the quality class, the information per measuring point can also be queried.
The Urban Water Atlas for Europe shows how different water management choices, as well as other factors such as waste management, climate change and even our food preferences, affect the long-term sustainability of water use in our cities. The Urban Water Atlas for Europe illustrates the role of water in European cities and informs citizens as well as local authorities and experts about good practices and cutting-edge developments that can contribute to ensuring that water is used more efficiently and sustainably, helping to save this valuable resource. It also attempts to change traditional perceptions of water being a free and infinite resource, and to encourage conservation. Detailed factsheets in the Urban Water Atlas for Europe present the state of water management in more than 40 European cities and regions together with a number of overseas examples. The atlas was presented on 27 April 2017 during the meeting of Ministers in charge of water management from the 43 members of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), hosted by the Maltese Government in Valetta. The publication is one of the results of the BlueSCities project, funded by Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme. The Atlas comes with two online tools that can help cities manage water more sustainably. The 'City Blueprint' is an interactive tool to support strategic decision-making by making it easy to access and understand relevant results and expert knowledge. The tool can present up to 25 different aspects of water management to give an overview of a city's strong and weak points, and provides tailor-made options for making urban water services more sustainable. The 'City Amberprint' is a tool for assessing a city's progress towards becoming smart and sustainable.
A new book gives an overview of the current state of research and of research gaps concerning litter in our oceans: “Marine Anthropogenic Litter” will be released by Springer-Verlag as an Open Access publication in June 2015. The editors, Melanie Bergmann and Lars Gutow from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and Michael Klages from the University of Gothenburg’s Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences, brought together experts from around the globe to contribute to the book. Estimates of the amount of litter in the world’s oceans, its distribution, effects on humans and biota, and prevention strategies are just some of the complex topics addressed in the book’s 16 chapters.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published 'The European environment – state and outlook 2015' report on 2 March 2015. SOER 2015 is an integrated assessment of Europe's environment. It also includes assessments and data at global, regional and country levels, as well as cross-country comparisons.
On 8 January 2015, the first edition of the Soil Atlas 2015 with facts and figures on the significance and the state of land, soil and agriculture in Germany, Europe and the rest of the world was jointly published by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), and Le Monde Diplomatique.
This study reports results from the laboratory analysis of ornamental plants sourced from garden centres, supermarkets and DIY-stores in ten European countries. The samples comprised more than 35 popular varieties like viola, bellflower and lavender which are attractive to bees. Overall, contamination with pesticides was found to be significant and relatively consistent across the samples as a whole. Of the 86 samples analysed, pesticide residues were found in 84 (97,6%) of these flowering plants. Only 2% of the samples contained no detectable residues. Insecticides regarded as of particular toxicological significance to bees were found frequently. In 68 of the 86 tested ornamental plants (79% of the samples) bee-harming pesticides were detected. The three neonicotinoid pesticides which have been restricted Europe-wide for certain agricultural uses in order to prevent exposure to bees were found in almost half of the samples: 43% of the samples contained Imidacloprid,8% Thiamethoxam and Clothianidin was found in 7% of the total, partly in high concentrations.
On 31 March 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the second part of their fifth assessment report „Climate change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability“ in Yokohama. The focus of this second part lies on the effects that climate change has on the ecosystems of our planet, as well as on how humans, animals and plants can adapt.
Sea-level rise not only affects settlement areas for large parts of the world population but also numerous sites of the UNESCO World Heritage. This is shown in a study by Ben Marzeion from the University of Innsbruck and Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, published on 5 March 2014 in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The UNESCO World Heritage List comprises a total of more than 700 cultural monuments. If global average temperature increases by just one degree Celsius, already more than 40 of these sites will directly be threatened by the water during the next 2000 years. With a temperature increase of three degrees, about one fifth of the cultural world heritage will be affected in the long term.
on 27 February 2014 the Royal Society and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences released a joint publication that explains the clear evidence that humans are causing the climate to change, and that addresses a variety of other key questions commonly asked about climate change science.
On 20 February 2014, the third “World Ocean Review” (WOR 3) was presented to the public with the motto, »World Ocean Review 3 - Raw materials from the Sea - Opportunities and Risks. The WOR 3, published by the non-profit organization maribus gGmbH with the support of the magazine »mare«, the International Ocean Institute (IOI) and the Cluster of Excellence »The Future Ocean«, describes in detail the known metal and energy commodities in the oceans and illuminates in a scientifically sound and for the layman comprehensible manner the opportunities and risks of mining operations and the use of raw materials in the sea. The new report provides facts about the amount of known oil and gas reserves and the solid gas hydrate deposits below the seafloor. Furthermore, it elaborates on the potential of mineral resources such as manganese nodules, cobalt crusts and massive sulfides. In addition, the report focuses on the responsibility of the international community for environmentally sound exploitation and the international legal challenge for socially just distribution of resources in international waters.
On 30 January 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released report Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis in its full and finalized form. The Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Working Group I assessment report was approved in September 2013 by the member governments of the IPCC meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, who also accepted the underlying report, after which the Summary for Policymakers was immediately made public.
On 29 January 2014, a new online Atlas of freshwater biodiversity presenting spatial information and species distribution patterns was launched at the land-mark Water Lives symposium bringing together European Union policy makers and freshwater scientists. This new Atlas provides policy-makers, water managers and scientists with an online, open-access and interactive gateway to key geographical information and spatial data on freshwater biodiversity across different scales. The Atlas is a resource for better, evidenced-based decision making in the area of water policy, science and management. The online Atlas adopts a book-like structure allowing easy browsing through its four thematic chapters, on I) Patterns of freshwater biodiversity, 2) Freshwater resources and ecosystems, 3) Pressures on freshwater systems and 4) Conservation and management. All of the maps are accompanied by a short article with further contextual background information.
An EEA report released on 15 October 2013, has revealed that over 90% of people in urban areas are exposed to what experts consider dangerous levels of pollutants fine particles (PM2.5) and ozone. Between 2009 and 2011, up to 96 % of city dwellers were exposed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations above WHO guidelines and up to 98 % were exposed to ozone (O3) levels above WHO guidelines.
On 27 September 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) held a press conference in Stockholm to present the Summary for Policymakers of the Working Group I contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The Working Group I contribution to the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) considers new evidence of climate change based on many independent scientific analyses from observations of the climate system, paleoclimate archives, theoretical studies of climate processes and simulations using climate models.
On 10 June 2013, the International Energy Agency released a special report of its World Energy Outlook, entitled Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map, which highlights the need for intensive action before 2020. The new IEA report presents the results of a 4-for-2 °C Scenario, in which four energy policies are selected that can deliver significant emissions reductions by 2020, rely only on existing technologies and have already been adopted successfully in several countries. The four policies are: Adopting specific energy efficiency measure (49% of the emissions savings). Limiting the construction and use of the least efficient coal-fired power plants (21%). Minimising methane (CH4) emissions from upstream oil and gas production (18%). Accelerating the (partial) phase-out of subsidies to fossil-fuel consumption (12%). Targeted energy effiency measures would reduce global energy-related emissions by 1.5 Gt in 2020, alevel close to that of Russia today.
ON 26 April 2013, the European Commission presented the first Soil Atlas of Africa. Coordinated by the European Commission's in-house science service, the JRC, an internationally renowned group of soil scientists from Africa and Europe has contributed to this atlas. The aim is to raise awareness at all levels – from politicians to the general public - of the significance of soil to life in Africa. The Soil Atlas is a collaborative initiative of the European Union, the African Union and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to support and encourage the sustainable use of soil resources in Africa and the Global Soil Partnership for Food Security. The Atlas explains the origin and functions of soil, describes the different soil types and their relevance to both local and global issues. It also discusses the principal threats to soil and the steps being taken to protect soil resources.
On 24 April 2013 Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)launched the European report on the health impacts of coal power generation in German language at a press conference in Berlin.
On 5 March 2013, ChemSec presented information about which companies put some of the most hazardous chemicals on the EU. This information has recently been made publicly available by the European Chemicals Agency following a ChemSec and ClientEarth lawsuit. ChemSec presented compiled information about the companies that have registered production or imports of the chemicals on the SIN List. Information about producers of SIN List chemicals, and in which countries they operate, has been added to the publicly available SIN List database.
Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict that dive will continue, reshaping daily life in the most populated areas of the planet as climate change intensifies. By 2050, a combination of rising heat and humidity is likely to cut the world’s labor capacity to 80 percent during summer months — twice the effect observed today.
Long-term exposure to fine particles (PM2.5) can trigger atherosclerosis, adverse birth outcomes and childhood respiratory diseases, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) review released on 31 January 2013. REVIHAAP – the “Review of evidence on health aspects of air pollution” – also suggests a possible link with neurodevelopment, cognitive function and diabetes, and strengthens the causal link between PM2.5 and cardiovascular and respiratory deaths. The WHO review found new evidence for effects of long-term exposures to ozone (O3) on respiratory mortality and on deaths among persons with predisposing chronic conditions. An impact of ozone exposure on cognitive development and reproductive health, including preterm birth is also suggested. The research was carried out at the request of the European Commission in the framework of the 2013 review of the European Union’s air policy.
Institute for Environmental Sciences, University Koblenz-Landau studied the effects of seven pesticide products on juvenile European common frogs (Rana temporaria) in an agricultural overspray scenario. Mortality ranged from 100% after one hour to 40% after seven days at the recommended label rate of currently registered products. This study was co-funded by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Germany.
Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the main cause of global warming –increased by 3%, reaching an all-time high of 34 billion tonnes in 2011. In China, the world’s most populous country, average emissions of CO2 increased by 9% to 7.2 tonnes per capita. China is now within the range of 6 to 19 tonnes per capita emissions of the major industrialised countries. In the European Union, CO2 emissions dropped by 3% to 7.5 tonnes per capita. The United States remain one of the largest emitters of CO2, with 17.3 tonnes per capita, despite a decline due to the recession in 2008-2009, high oil prices and an increased share of natural gas. These are the main findings of the annual report ‘Trends in global CO2 emissions’, released on 18 July 2012 by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL).
If global warming continues at its current pace, the planet will increasingly suffer irreversible damages to its biodiversity, natural resources and substantial losses of human life and territory according to a joint report published on 10 May 2012, by CARE International, Germanwatch, ActionAid and WWF at the Climate Change Conference in Bonn. The joint report called "Into Unknown Territory: The limits to adaptation and reality of loss and damage from climate impacts" concludes that adaptation to climate change alone will no longer suffice. Governments will need to take new measures to deal with extreme impacts and prepare for losses due to climate change. Unless substantial efforts are taken immediately to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage climate resilient development, global warming could exceed 4 and even 6°C. The costs will place a massive burden even on industrialized countries, whilst massively increasing poverty and reversing development gains in poorer regions. The figures are staggering, conservative estimates show that we could risk around 2 trillion USD in economic and non-economic impacts worldwide by the year 2060 combined with potentially irreversible losses to ecosystems and biodiversity.
Catastrophic nuclear accidents such as the core meltdowns in Chernobyl and Fukushima are more likely to happen than previously assumed. Based on the operating hours of all civil nuclear reactors and the number of nuclear meltdowns that have occurred, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz and the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia have calculated that such events may occur once every 10 to 20 years (based on the current number of reactors)—some 200 times more often than estimated in the past. The researchers also determined that, in the event of such a major accident, half of the radioactive caesium-137 would be spread over an area of more than 1,000 kilometers away from the nuclear reactor. Their results show that Western Europe is likely to be contaminated about once in 50 years by more than 40 kilobecquerel of caesium-137 per square meter. Published in Atmos. Chem. Phys. 12 May 2012.
The Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf fringing the Weddell Sea, Antarctica, may start to melt rapidly in this century and no longer act as a barrier for ice streams draining the Antarctic Ice Sheet. These predictions are made by climate researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association in the 10 May 2012 edition of the science magazine “Nature“. They refute the widespread assumption that ice shelves in the Weddell Sea would not be affected by the direct influences of global warming due to the peripheral location of the Sea.
On 7 May 2012 the Club of Rome launched the report, "2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, by Jorgen Randers". Published in the run-up to the Rio Summit, this Report to the Club of Rome: 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years (published by US publishers Chelsea Green) looks at issues first raised in The Limits to Growth, 40 years ago. This earlier Report, also to the Club of Rome, of which Randers was a co-author, created shock waves by questioning the ideal of permanent growth.
The IPCC released its Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) on 28 March 2012. The report assesses the evidence that climate change has led to changes in climate extremes and the extent to which policies to avoid prepare for, respond to and recover from the risks of disaster can reduce the impact of such events.
On 15 March 2012, "One Life" an highly acclaimed feature-length BBC documentary started in Germany.
On 28 February 2012, Greenpeace released “Lessons from Fukushima” in Tokyo, a report which shows that it was not a natural disaster which led to the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant on Japan’s east coast, but the failures of the Japanese Government, regulators and the nuclear industry.
The 2011 Report on the Environmental Economy presents the latest developments, challenges and prospects of the environmental economy in Germany. The report documents the sector's increasing importance for the German economy and illustrates that Germany has already made considerable progress with the ecological modernisation of the economy and society: between 1990 and 2010 energy productivity rose by 38.6 percent and raw material productivity by 46.8 percent. There were also positive developments regarding air pollutant emissions: a 56.4 percent reduction was achieved in the reporting period compared with 1990. Germany is also at the forefront of recovery of waste and its environmentally sound disposal: around 90 percent of construction waste and 63 percent of municipal and production waste are already being recycled.
On 25 November 2011, the European Red List of Vascular Plants was published by the European Commission. This first assessment of Europe’s Vascular Plants has assessed 1,826 species. The assessment comprises three groups: plants included in European and international policy instruments, selected priority crop wild relatives, and aquatic plant species present in Europe. The assessment shows us that at least 467 species are threatened. The publication was prepared by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
www.klimanavigator.de, a new internet portal, was launched on 25 July 2011. The platform collects knowledge on climate change and serves as a guide to the German research landscape in the area of climate, the results of climate change, and adjusting to climate change. The project was initiated by the Climate Service Center (CSC) in Hamburg, which is part of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht. The Klimanavigator (or the climate navigator) is a joint portal for over thirty institutions in the German research landscape. They have united to better communicate their results to users in politics, business, administration, and society as a whole. The Klimanavigator helps to collect knowledge about climate protection and how we can adjust to its changes.
Car fleet renewal schemes introduced in the US, France and Germany fell short of their potential to deliver on environmental and safety objectives, according to a new report published by the International Transport Forum at the OECD and the FIA Foundation on 11 July 2011. The focus of the 70-page study are three of the largest car fleet renewal schemes introduced primarily to stimulate consumer spending on cars in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis. The study investigates the impact on CO2 and NOx emissions of 2.8 million transactions in which old cars were traded for new vehicles under car fleet renewal schemes in France, Germany and the United States. The report assesses the value for money of the different schemes and identifies critical design elements for ensuring success in meeting the environmental and safety objectives. The report was prepared by the Dutch research and consultancy organisation TNO together with experts at the International Transport Forum and the OECD Environment Directorate. The safety impact analysis was prepared by the Dutch Institute for Road Safety Research (SWOV).
Between 1998 and 2008, at least 1,060 new species have been discovered in the forests, wetlands and waters of New Guinea. The newly described species include 580 invertebrates, 218 plants, 134 amphibians, 71 fishes, 43 reptiles, 12 mammals and 2 birds. New Guinea covers less than 0.5% of the Earth’s landmass, but is home to 6–8% of the world’s species. This report shows that New Guinea’s forests and rivers are among the richest and most biodiverse in the world.
How high is the risk for societies worldwide to become victims of natural hazards and climate change? Earthquakes, floods, droughts, storms: disasters seem to occur unexpectedly and with unimaginable force. But why do some countries better succeed than others to cope with extreme natural events? The WorldRiskReport 2011 helps to evaluate the vulnerability of societies to natural hazards. Using world maps to visualize, it shows on the one hand where the probability of a natural hazard to occur is particularly high; on the other hand it is shown in which countries the population can cope with these events especially good or bad. The central element of the WorldRiskReport, the concept of the WorldRiskIndex, was developed by the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) in Bonn/Germany, in cooperation with the Alliance Development Works and its partners. Alliance Development Works also is editor of the report. The German version of the "WeltRisikoBericht" was released on 15 June 2011 in Germany.
The E-PRTR, launched in 2009 to improve access to environmental information, contains already data reported by individual industrial facilities (point sources) and, as of 26 May 2011, information on emissions from road transport, shipping, aviation, heating of buildings, agriculture and small businesses (diffuse sources). Diffuse sources of pollution are widespread and/or concentrated in highly populated areas. A large number of many tiny emissions from houses and vehicles represent collectively a large, diffuse source of pollution, in particular in cities. The new, comprehensive set of 32 maps allows Europeans to see on a scale of 5 km by 5 km where pollutants are released. They include details of nitrogen oxides (NOX), sulphur oxides (SOX), carbon monoxide (CO), ammonia (NH3) and particulate matter (PM10).