The scarcity of resources will define the 21st century even more than climate change, Friends of Europe’s Policy Summit on Europe’s scarce resources strategy heard during the European Commission’s Green Week 2011. The European Union has a plethora of policies and regulations that affect resource availability, but that does not necessarily add up to a coherent policy. However, the Commission is working on ways to encourage consumers and businesses to change the way they produce and use goods and services.
The world is entering a new age of scarcity and the EU needs a coherent and effective policy to deal with it, Friends of Europe’s Green Week event on Europe’s Scarce Resource Strategy heard. “We urgently need to rethink the way we produce and consume goods and services in all sectors of the economy,” said Karl Falkenberg, European Commission Director General for the Environment. Polish Environment Minister Andrzej Kraszewski went even further, asserting that we have to go beyond attempts to decouple economic growth from resource use and reduce consumption.“ Economic growth will lead us to a dead end,” he said.
The business case for embracing the resource efficiency and environmental agendas is easy to make said Janez Potočnik, EU Commissioner for the Environment. “Quite simply, there is no other option.” It is possible to have economic growth while dramatically reducing resources, added Salvatore Gabola, European Public Affairs Director of Coca-Cola Europe, but industry needs clear global targets on issues such as climate change and it needs governments to internalise the external costs that are not currently reflected in prices.