Europe steps towards resource efficient future

24 May 2012

But must still address overconsumption

As pressure on world's natural resources increases rapidly, European Parliament showed overwhelming support today for measuring Europe's use of resources, in a step towards a resource efficient future, including full incorporation of resource efficiency into the Europe 2020 economic agenda. However, Europe will not make the most of the environmental, economic and social benefits of resource efficiency without clear targets to reduce, in absolute terms, Europe's consumption of resources, according to Friends of the Earth Europe.

Today's vote finalised the European Parliament's views on the Resource Efficiency Roadmap published by the European Commission [1]. The vote endorsed a number of key polices necessary to ensure Europe can cope with a future of more constrained and expensive resources, but clear targets are needed to tackle Europe's overconsumption of the world's natural resources.

Ariadna Rodrigo, resource use campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "We now have full parliamentary support for Europe to start measuring its land, water, carbon and material footprints; a crucial step towards creating a more resource efficient Europe.

But to fully benefit from this it's vital Europe also addresses its overconsumption of the world's increasingly scarce natural resources – by developing targets to reduce, in absolute terms, Europe's resource use."

A robust set of indicators for land, water, carbon and materials [2] was supported in preference to the European Commission's top level 'resource productivity' indicator, once again demonstrating that it lacks transparency and is not fit for purpose. There was support for bans on landfilling of waste and on incineration of recyclable or compostable waste, and to bring residual waste close to zero – a step-change in Europe's waste polices. Both the Resource Efficiency Roadmap and the Parliament's report emphasise the massive economic benefits that would come from being more resource efficient [3].

Ariadna Rodrigo continued: "In the current economic times, Europe should be proactively taking steps to improve the way we use resources and making the most of the economic, social and environmental benefits this brings. The European Commission – and national governments – need to stop delaying and start taking action."

The social and environmental impacts of Europe's overconsumption of resources are already being felt – increasing demand for agricultural land to produce feed for animals, or crops for agrofuels, is leading to the destruction of valuable habitats and to land being grabbed from local populations [4].



[1]European Commission (2011). Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe.

[2] These four resource use indicators measure our global consumption of key resources, measured in simple physical units and with a transparent methodology. For more information about these resource use indicators.

[3] Resource efficiency could bring significant financial savings across Europe – UK government-funded research found that €28 billion Euros could be saved in the UK alone.

Significant savings can also be made through better recycling and waste management

[4] Friends of the Earth Europe. (2010). Africa: Up for grabs - The scale and impact of land grabbing for agrofuels.