State of Europe’s environment | European Environment Agency’s home page

State of Europe’s environment | European Environment Agency’s home page

Europe faces persistent problems in areas such as biodiversity loss, resource use, climate change impacts and environmental risks to health and well-being. The continent continues to consume more resources and contribute more to environmental degradation than other world regions.

Policy measures targeted at nature protection have delivered benefits in some areas, but many problems persist and some are getting worse. For example, reduced pollution has improved water quality, but only 40% of the EU’s surface waters had achieved good ecological status by 2015. Land management has improved, but landscape fragmentation continues to increase, damaging habitats and biodiversity. 75% of Europe’s ecosystem area is exposed to excessive nitrogen levels, causing eutrophication. The impacts of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystems are expected to intensify, while activities such as agriculture, fisheries, transport, industry and energy production continue to cause biodiversity loss, resource extraction and harmful emissions.

Although good progress has been made towards reducing air pollution from industry, transport and households — reducing the number of deaths linked to air pollution as a result, over 10% of annual premature human deaths in the EU are related to environmental pollution. An increasing body of evidence demonstrates that citizens’ health is being adversely affected by hazardous chemicals.

The outlook for 2030 suggests that the current rate of progress will not be sufficient to meet 2030 and 2050 climate and energy targets.

Europe has made progress in relation to resource efficiency and the circular economy. Material consumption has remained relatively stable and resource efficiency improved as the gross domestic product has increased. Total EU water abstraction decreased by 15% between 2000 and 2019.

As set in the European Green Deal, Europe is committed to becoming a climate-neutral continent by 2050. Faced with the sustainability challenges above, achieving sustainability requires a complete transformation of key systems — the way we produce our food, we produce and consume goods, we move and build our cities, while boosting nature’s resilience and preparing for the impacts of climate change.

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