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Environmental Protection & Preservation

Sustainable Use of Natural Resources

MEPs adopted an own-initiative report on the sustainable use of natural resources. The House considers that the Commission's action platform for the study of the sustainable development strategy is too cautious and limited in scope and that, in its present form, it will not be able to persuade the public or political decision-makers to pursue the crucial goals for which it provides.

The report calls on the Commission to establish goals and targets at political and at sectoral level for resource efficiency, and speed up the work on appropriate tools to maintain progress.


The European Parliament considers that the Commission should take Parliament, European public opinion and the environment seriously, and calls on the Commission to set binding targets and timetables for natural resources in the following way:

(a) to develop and implement best practices for every production chain,
(b) to achieve a quantitative greenhouse gas reduction of at least 30% by 2020 and of 80% by 2050 against 1990 levels.

Parliament considers that by 2030 the use of primary non-renewable resources in the EU must be reduced by a factor of 4, or the use of natural resources must be halved by 2030 while simultaneously increasing worldwide prosperity.

MEPs stress that the EU should adopt a clear target for the absolute reduction of resource use, given that the analysis in the Annex to the Commission's Resources Strategy Communication indicates that we need to go beyond a 3% annual resource efficiency improvement, and that halving resource use in the period 2005-2030 requires almost 6% annual resource efficiency improvement.

The House proposes that the Commission perform within three years an assessment regarding the possibilities and the instruments for decoupling natural resource use from economic growth. The revised strategy should include these decoupling instruments. This approach should also be implemented in the revision of existing policies.

Sustainable development outside the EU

The report calls on the EU to ensure that all Community instruments and legislation contribute overall to the conservation of natural resources and the pursuit of sustainable development in the EU and countries outside the EU. MEPs say that the EU should encourage the establishment of resource strategies in non-EU countries, which should also be reflected in its funds and aid policy.


The report also considers that a reallocation of subsidies, for example more subsidies for small-scale hydroelectric power, as well as for wind power and solar energy, would promote the use of new technologies and improve Europe's competitive position in the world, as well as reducing dependence on fossil fuels imported from other parts of the world.

Keep the consumer informed

Finally, among other points, MEPs consider that the EU should do everything possible to provide consumers and producers with proper information on the sustainable use of natural resources, that environmental education, particularly concerning sustainable consumption, should form part of elementary education, and that consumers and producers should be involved in ideas concerning changes which could lead to sustainable use of natural resources.

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