Next week, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD, will host an Informal Meeting of EU Environment Ministers at Dublin Castle. During the meeting Ministers will discuss a range of important environmental and climate issues as part of the Irish Presidency agenda.
In line with the overall “Stability, Jobs and Growth” theme of the Irish Presidency, the meeting presents an opportunity for Ministers to discuss progress on achieving a resource efficient Europe, which is so crucial to European competitiveness and job creation, and the recently published European Commission Communication on Building the Single Market for Green Products. Welcoming this opportunity, Minister Hogan said “The development of a functioning single market for green products is an essential part of ensuring a Europe wide transition to a resource efficient, climate resilient and low carbon future. The Informal Council provides an excellent opportunity for a political discussion on progress in advancing the green economy and resource agenda in the EU”.
An address will be made by Mr Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and a leading proponent of the global green economy.
Focus will then move to Air Quality and the Urban Environment, an appropriate theme given the designation of 2013 as the EU’s Year of Air and the upcoming review of the EU’s Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution later this year. Ministers will discuss a range of issues including compliance with current air quality policies, coherence with international commitments, and how to better address and reduce the impacts of air pollution on human health and the environment.
Minister Hogan - The development of a functioning single market for green products is an essential part of ensuring a Europe wide transition to a resource efficient, climate resilient and low carbon future
The first day’s sessions will conclude with a short presentation by Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik on the European Green Capitals initiative which is run by the EU Commission. The Mayor of Vitoria Gasteiz in Spain which won the competition in 2012 will speak on their experience as winners of the Award last year. This will provide Ministers with a first-hand account of the environmental and economic benefits which participation in the initiative yielded for Vitoria Gasteiz, encouraging wider participation in the initiative by other EU cities in the future. Afterwards, Ministers will be hosted by the Lord Mayor of Dublin at the Wood Quay Venue, Dublin City Council where they will see examples of some innovative technologies in the cleantech sector that will be very important in delivering a more sustainable future.
Photo: European Commissioner for Environment Janez Potočnik in a 100% electric car at Dublin airport.
On Tuesday, the focus shifts to climate issues, specifically the European Commission’s recently published Consultative Communication on the international climate change negotiations process. Ministers will discuss how the EU can work successfully with other Parties and stakeholders to maximise ambition and participation in the new global agreement, and how they can work collectively to mobilise political engagement and interaction, both internally and with other negotiating Parties, to build momentum towards concluding the agreement by the 2015 target-date. The recent Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice conference, organised by the Irish Presidency in co-operation with the Mary Robinson Climate Justice Foundation, at which the real-life impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities around the world were so vividly outlined, underscores the importance of the process to conclude a new global agreement so that some of the most serious dangers of climate change can be averted.
Climate Action Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, will also introduce the EU Climate Adaptation Strategy, which was published on 16 April, and which the Irish Presidency is aiming to agree Council Conclusions for our next Environment Council meeting in June.
Environment Ministers will be joined on Tuesday by Energy Ministers for a working lunch where there will be an initial exchange of political views on the EU Green Paper – A 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies. The paper provides a basis for a focussed debate on shaping the 2030 framework for climate and energy policies, in the broader context of structured and cost-effective transition to a low-carbon, competitive and secure European economy, again very much in line with the programme of the Irish Presidency.