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GEO Year Book 2004/5  
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Europe

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY: A LONG WAY TO GO
MATERIALS AND WASTE
TRANSPORT: FULL-COST PRICING NEEDED
AGRICULTURE AND BIODIVERSITY IN THE NEW EU
CHALLENGES FOR THE FUTURE

With the 2004 European Union expansion from 15 to 25 countries, political and economic integration is increasing in Europe. Recent international environmental agreements for regional seas, mountain areas, and river basins are a further integrating force. Social and economic conditions, however, still vary significantly. Trends in energy, transport, waste, agriculture and tourism all over Europe are expected to have negative impacts on environmental issues such as air, water, climate and biodiversity.

Key Facts

  • On 1 May 2004, the 15 older European Union (EU) Member States were joined by 10 new Members. This makes the EU the second largest economy after the United States.
  • With just over 820 million people (in 2002), Europe has a large and ageing population, which is increasingly healthy and wealthy in much of Western Europe, more and more of Central Europe, but only part of Eastern Europe.
  • Almost three-quarters of Europeans live in urban agglomerations, on just 15 per cent of the total land area.
  • The EU's ecological footprint is very large and increasing. An area half the size of the new enlarged EU is needed just to cover EU imports of wood and food.
  • With economic growth and increased consumption, overall volumes of waste (such as packaging, electronic and hazardous waste) are particularly high in Europe and increasing.
  • Energy consumption in Europe is rising, but more slowly than the economy because of rising energy efficiency. Fossil fuels dominate the fuel mix with an 80 per cent share.
  • Transport is the largest energy-consuming sector in Europe. In Western Europe it is responsible for around 30 per cent of total energy consumption, compared to around 21 per cent in Central and 19 per cent in Eastern Europe (2002 data).
  • Road transport has by far the biggest share of transport energy consumption, being responsible for about 82 per cent in Western Europe, about 86 per cent in Central and 47 per cent in Eastern Europe (2002 data).
  • About 41 per cent of the total Western European land area is agricultural land, compared to 54 per cent in Central and only 16 per cent in Eastern Europe. Much of Europe's biodiversity is found on farmland and depends on maintaining certain farming practices.

Sources: EEA 2004a, b and c, FAOSTAT data in GEO Data Portal, IEA 2004, OECD 2004, UNPD data in GEO Data Portal, Van Vuuren and Bouwman 2005

 


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