European Commissioner for the Environment Karmenu Vella opened the EU Environmental Footprint final conference, discussing the results of the project’s pilot phase and how the results can be applied.
The EU Environmental Footprint began in 2013, when the European Commission published a series of recommendations of common methods which could be used to calculate the environmental footprint – including greenhouse gas emissions and other waste products – of organisations and products.
The aim of these new methods was to provide reliable, standard measurements which can help companies to quantify and compare their environmental impact. This is a vital part of the EU’s wider ambitions towards creating a circular economy and meeting its climate change targets, as established by the Paris Climate Agreement.
How was the footprint developed?
Since 2013, the EU, alongside a number of volunteer organisations, have tested the calculation methods against a number of products and services to ensure that they allow for viable comparison. Vella began by thanking the participants in the project who helped to develop the EU Environmental Footprint, and emphasised the role it would play in reducing environmental impact in the future.
He said: “Our footprint on this planet… [is] our reality, it’s our responsibility, and our society needs to take ownership of its consequences. I think people are ready to do that. In our surveys, nine out of ten citizens say that protecting the environment is important to them personally. These people are willing to make real choices that reflect their values… and it’s our job to help them. We need to find ways of making it happen.”
What does the commission hope to achieve?
Vella explained that the EU Environmental Footprint has the potential to deliver significant benefits across the entire value chain of a variety of products. He said: “Companies that want to green their supply chains need simple criteria to select suppliers, or to work with them on improving their environmental performance.
“Manufacturers who want to make greener products need an easy way to understand the consequences of different design choices. And consumers need a clear way to identify products that are environmentally friendly. An area where lawmakers have an obvious role to play. The footprint has proved its potential to provide the input for all of those decisions.”
The final conference on the first phase of the EU Environmental Footprint is taking place in Brussels, Belgium from 23-25 April.