News in cooperation with eceee.org

Critical crossroads for Europe's climate and resource strategy, coalition calls for sufficiency and resilience

(eceee Press Release, 2 Apr 2024) Europe's heavy dependence on resources poses a dual threat to the climate as well as its own sovereignty. A manifesto launched by 75 European organisations, eceee included, issues a resounding call: sufficiency policies must be urgently integrated as a cornerstone of the new EU strategic agenda.

With the European elections in June and the EU Council discussing the post-election strategic agenda in a few weeks’ time, a coalition spanning civil society, academia, local governments, businesses, and public operators urges the next EU mandate to tackle Europe's resource dependencies with sufficiency to address pressing security, climate, and social challenges.

The EU's significant and escalating material, water, land, and energy consumption [1], coupled with critical dependencies on imported resources like fossil fuels [2], amplifies strategic vulnerabilities. Alarmingly, this not only obstructs global climate, biodiversity, and pollution targets but also exacerbates regional and global disparities and instability, as repeatedly warned by the IPCC [3], the United Nations Environment Programme [4], and the European Environment Agency [5].

Following citizen demands [6] and the aforementioned reports, the manifesto is a wake-up call to lawmakers: Europe’s demand for resources needs to be structurally transformed, and sufficiency strategies are key to drive this transformation. The coalition asserts that the EU can lead the charge towards a sustainable global future, while meeting climate and energy targets, enhancing well-being, competitiveness, and resilience, and fostering strategic investments.

This entails policies, measures, and daily practices aimed at curbing the demand for these resources while ensuring human well-being for all within the constraints of planetary boundaries. The manifesto lays out sector-specific recommendations spanning transport, energy, buildings, spatial planning, materials, products, food, and water, bolstered by taxation and finance support.

The initiators of the coalition, representing the European Environmental Bureau, Energy Cities, Association négaWatt, ClientEarth, Energiesuffizienz, ACR+, REScoop.eu and Jacques Delors Energy Centre said: “As the next EU institutions' mandate looms, policymakers stand at a critical juncture: stick with the status quo or embrace a bolder vision for Europe. An ambitious trajectory with sufficiency- driven national policies is pivotal in propelling Europe towards becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, resilient across environmental, security, and social dimensions.”

Janez Potočnik, Former EU Commissioner and Co-Chair of the International Resource Panel said, “As stated in the IRP Global Resource Outlook 2024, efficiency should be complemented by sufficiency policies. In addition to asking ourselves how much is enough to meet our essential needs, we should also find strategies to meet them in the most energy and resource-efficient way” Yamina Saheb, Senior Energy Policy Analyst at OpenExp and lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said, “Sufficiency is a MUST to deliver on the EU social-ecological agenda. Any additional delay to include sufficiency in EU binding instruments will hinder EU citizens' social rights in a livable planet”

View the manifesto here

Notes to editors

[1] Despite representing 9% of the global population, Europe makes up 19% of the world’s material footprints.

The continent is also on trend with the global’s projection to consume a staggering 60% more resources by 2060,

posing grave threats to global climate, biodiversity, pollution targets, economic prosperity, and human well-being.

[2] As an example, in 2022, the EU imported 62.5% of its energy, the highest level since 1990.

[3] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Working Group III contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report)

[4] UNEP International Resource Panel Global Resources Outlook 2024

[5] European Environment Agency report on “Accelerating the circular economy in Europe”

[6] Citizens call for sufficiency and regulation — A comparison of European citizen assemblies and National Energy and Climate Plans