/EU environmental laws trickle down to your town

EU environmental laws trickle down to your town

The G7 happened for its 2019 edition on a weekend starting on 24 August and brought with it new discussions on the environment. 

France hosted this year’s summit and greeted the seven members plus two representatives of the European Union in Biarritz, where one of the main focuses was biodiversity. Among many important topics discussed, the members agreed on taking further action to limit climate change. But what about the effectiveness of EU agreements on a small scale at city level?

According to Thomas Chauvin, Head of Service in the waste department in the city of Orleans, France, between one and two years happen before new policies come into force. The decisions taken at the G7 will thus not show any results in a while. Nevertheless, there has to be noticeable developments since the last summits and in particular since the COP21 which happened in France as well.

It is also where the members signed the Paris Agreements, paving the way for a more responsible world in regard of sustainable development and climate change. “In terms of waste management, there is now in France a waste prevention action that we didn’t have before,” Thomas said.

Three main courses of action are in place: prevention, valorisation and recycling. “In terms of prevention for example, composting has been updated to make it more positive for people”. Moreover, industrials now also have obligations in the recycling of waste by request of the state. And by 2025, all EU member states will have to collect biowaste. “That’s the advantage with the European Union. The measures are imposed, we can’t do whatever we want.”

Along with biodiversity, action is being taken in the renewable energy sector in which EU countries have taken on annual binding targets through the Europe 2020 Strategy. According to the European Commission, achieving the goals should make the European Union more competitive and create jobs.

In his department of waste management, Thomas is witnessing the arrival of two new departments with someone in charge of climate change and someone in charge of sustainable development. Their goal is to make improvements at city level such as the rent of electrical bikes or the renovation of city buildings in terms of energy.

While France is on the track of being a more responsible and sustainable country, others in the EU have already made all these measures and even more, a habit. The Netherlands show a high level of sustainable development. In a country where the bike is a religion, the recycling is a priority. It is so rooted in the Dutch culture than Dutch people themselves can’t really remember when their country started to act so green.

Further in that idea is the famous Dutch institution Wageningen University and Research focused on research in the domains of health, food and environment. Aiming “to explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”, Wageningen is an example of what can be achieved in a country for the environment.