EU heightens sustainability focus

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 17th July 2008

Improving the environmental performance and, in particular, the energy efficiency of products and stimulating their market uptake are the core objectives of a package put forward by the European Commission. It sets out a series of voluntary and obligatory actions to support a coherent and dynamic policy in the EU and internationally, helping to define eco-friendly products, informing the consumer through improved labelling and supporting their purchase through public procurement and fiscal incentives.

Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, believes the EU is responsible for setting the benchmark for the rest of the world to follow. “The EU has to set an example and prove that industry is capable to contribute vigorously to fight against climate change,” he said. “Taking up this challenge will create a win-win situation – more growth, more jobs, more environmental protection.”

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas added that the time for action had come and such proposals should be welcomed. “In terms of our impact on the planet we are living far beyond our means,” he claimed. “The time has come for us to change the type of products we buy and transform our methods of production. This is why the European Commission is putting forward proposals to encourage a switch to energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly products and production.”

The action plan lists the initiatives the Commission will undertake in 3 areas:

1. A new product policy

2. Promoting leaner production

3. Sustainable consumption and production internationally

The policies include an extension of the ecolabel scheme, which highlights the most environmentally-friendly products, and the creation of a retail forum to prepare retailers to commit to new initiatives that will reduce the carbon footprint of their stores.

More information about the program can be found at the EU website.