EEAC member councils: Latest publications

EEAC member councils are tasked to advise their governments and parliaments on issues related to the environment and sustainable development. On this page you will find the latest publications by EEAC member councils

Climate Neutrality: Options for setting the right course and ambitious delivery

The German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina have produced a joint position paper presenting paths to climate neutrality. In it, the Leopoldina and the RNE highlight options for action to effect the changes needed within society, at political level and in the business world, in view especially of the urgency and the historic dimensions of the transformation we face. With the paper, the Leopoldina and the RNE are consciously not seeking to engage in a race to set the most ambitious target. They are instead offering an options paper for setting the right course and covering the key implementation steps. The position paper was presented at the RNE’s 20th annual conference held on 8 June 2021 and was handed over to the Federal Chancellor, Dr Angela Merkel.
Climate Neutrality: Options for setting the right course and ambitious delivery
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Beyond Climate Neutrality

Ahead of the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow in November 2021, the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) presented a policy paper entitled 'Beyond Climate Neutrality'. In the paper, the WBGU recommends making national long-term strategies a key topic at the Glasgow climate conference in order to provide orientation for current climate policy. Up to now, countries have only been obliged to submit short-term 'nationally determined contributions' (NDCs) to climate-change mitigation. These need to become far more ambitious and to start promoting policies conducive to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. In the WBGU's view, therefore, countries must also be obliged to formulate and communicate long-term strategies that go beyond climate neutrality and aim for global climate stabilization, offering guidelines for strengthening NDCs and a basis for an internationally coordinated sustainability policy. This view was given a valuable boost by a ruling handed down on 24 March 2021 by Germany's Federal Constitutional Court, which imposed on German legislators a constitutional obligation to formulate long-term strategies to reduce CO2 emissions beyond 2030. Long-term strategies should contain three separate priorities for this purpose, the WBGU argues: they should first stipulate a rapid and complete phase-out of fossil-fuel use, second, aim at the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of ecosystems, and third, make strategic preparations for the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. The strategies should furthermore aim for multiple benefits with other sustainability dimensions, such as health and poverty reduction, WBGU continued. Finally, it is extremely important to take into account the international impacts of the measures laid down in national long-term strategies, such as the consequences of planned imports of green hydrogen, the WBGU concluded.
Beyond Climate Neutrality
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Digital Inclusion in Ireland: Connectivity, Devices & Skills

This report from the Irish National Economic and Social Council (NESC), entitled ‘Digital Inclusion in Ireland: Connectivity, Devices & Skills’ shows that that there are groups who remain poorly engaged with digital technologies. In particular, it highlights those who are older, have lower levels of education, lower incomes, and live in rural areas; as well as smaller businesses and farms. The NESC report argues that a digital inclusion strategy would help address the ‘digital’ needs of people in these key groups. Doing so would build on Ireland’s large investment in broadband connectivity. It would also help companies, particularly micro-businesses, compete effectively with other small open economies. And critically in the years to come it could be a key means of combatting social exclusion. The report highlights furthermore that there are several State policies focused on digital technologies. There are also a range of state agency, business and community programmes. There is a need to co-ordinate across these polices and programmes if digital inclusion is to improve, the NESC argues. The report recommends a stand-alone digital inclusion strategy should be developed. It also recommends a comprehensive framework for digital skills progression and certification. It highlights the need for targeted supports for key groups, including those with low incomes, and smaller businesses and farms. Finally, the report argues that enhanced guidance is needed to develop digital public services which are easily accessed by all, and assisted-digital public services for the groups who will continue to face difficulties going online.
Digital Inclusion in Ireland: Connectivity, Devices & Skills
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Digitalisation and the transition towards a sustainable society

Digital technology and data use are changing our society in fundamental ways. These changes are having a major impact on the sustainability of our living environment. Although digitalisation and sustainability are inextricably connected, government policy fails to recognise this connection. In its advisory report about ‘digitalisation and the transition towards a sustainable society, the Dutch Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (Rli) argues that the national government must intervene much more actively and utilise the advantages the digital world offers to further the green transformation.
Digitalisation and the transition towards a sustainable society
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Long-term Resilient and Sustainable Cities A Scoping Paper

There is no single blueprint for cities on how to develop ocio-economic, environmental and climate resilience strategies, designed to adapt to stresses and shocks. However, a new research paper published by the Irish National Economic and Social Council, entiteled ‘Building Long Term Resilient and Sustainable Cities” explores the conditions required to enable cities to build resilience. The research paper also looks at actions needed to make cities resilient and liveable places, by prioritising the inter-relationship between people and place, especially the natural environment.
Long-term Resilient and Sustainable Cities A Scoping Paper
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Hydrogen: the missing link

Hydrogen can play a role in making the economy more sustainable in two ways: as an energy carrier, and as a feed stock for industry. The Dutch Climate Agreement, Climate Plan and various sector-specific scenarios all assign an important role to hydrogen. Hydrogen is also receiving considerable attention internationally, as illustrated by the many strategies, vision documents, reports and investments by governments and global companies. Hydrogen, in other words, has potential. There are however multiple challenges and possible infringing interests when it comes to the use of hydrogen in the future. In this context the Dutch Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (Rli) produced its report aiming to answer the question: What is a realistic prospect for hydrogen as a feed stock and/or energy carrier in a sustainable economy, and what role should the (Dutch) national government and other parties play in that regard?
Hydrogen: the missing link
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Challenges and Opportunities for Rural Ireland and the Agricultural Sector

There is a prevailing narrative around the decline of rural areas in Ireland. This is not unique to the Irish context with international studies also looking at concerns around rural vitality. This narrative is associated predominately with a decline in the agricultural sector, urbanisation and the decline of opportunities in rural areas. The latest NESC paper aims to quantitatively establish how rural areas have changed and qualitatively identify opportunities based on a group of an expert group.
Challenges and Opportunities for Rural Ireland and the Agricultural Sector
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Interim opinion on the strategic directions of the draft Recovery and Resilience Plan

On 12 January 2021, Mr Dermine, Belgium's State Secretary for Economic Recovery and Strategic Investments, asked the Central Economic Council (CRB-CCE) and the Federal Council for Sustainable Development (FRDO-CFDD) for their opinion on the strategic directions of the draft Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP). This request for an opinion forms part of the European process whereby Belgium, like every Member State of the European Union, must submit its Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) to the European Commission by 30 April 2021 in order to benefit from the Recovery and Resilience Facility. The Councils met on 18 and 26 January and on 2, 5 and 8 February to draw up this opinion, which was approved by the CRB-CCE plenary session on 16 February and by the FRDO-CFDD General Assembly on 18 February 2021.
Interim opinion on the strategic directions of the draft Recovery and Resilience Plan
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Status update report 2021 – Denmark´s national and international climate efforts

In its resent status update the DCCC concluded that despite a number of climate policy agreements between the Government and the Parliament,  it is not likely that the Government will achieve the target of a 70-percent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2030. The primary reason for this is that the Government has not made a concrete plan for how to fill two thirds of the emissions reduction gap remaining after implementation of the agreements adopted, the DCCC argues. Furthermore, the Government largely bases the remaining effort on new technologies without a proper plan on how to achieve the reductions. The conclusion is followed by a set of recommendation by the DCCC. The Council recommends the Government to develop a national strategy on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as soon as possibly. The Council also recommends that the Government adopts additional policy measures in order to achieve extra emission reductions. Furthermore, the Council recommends the Government to ensure the implementation of a general greenhouse gas tax, which could support a cost-efficient fulfillment of Denmark`s climate objectives. Finally, the Council on Climate Change recommends a higher price on climate effects in socio-economic calculations and an accelerated re-wetting of drained peat soils. The status update concludes that Denmark is close at fulfilling current EU energy- and climate obligations for 2030 by means of the policy agreements adopted in the recent year. Additional efforts are required to meet the Non-ETS obligation, though fulfillment of the 70 percent target is very likely to deliver on this obligation too. Expectedly, the EU will increase its overall reduction target for 2030 from 40 percent to at least 55 percent, and this might imply that Denmark and other Member States will be met with tighter obligations than today.
Status update report 2021 – Denmark´s national and international climate efforts
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Grounding the Recovery in Sustainable Development

The National Economic and Social Council (Ireland) published a council statement ‘Grounding the Recovery in Sustainable Development’. In it statement the Council argues that ‘rising to the challenge and seeing the possibility of change, as demonstrated by our response to Covid-19, is needed to tackle the climate change and biodiversity crises. The Council also sets out the importance and value of grounding the recovery in sustainable development.
Grounding the Recovery in Sustainable Development
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Circular economy: Putting ideas into practice

The German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU), released the English version of its report entitled 'Circular economy: Putting ideas into practice'. The report discusses what regulatory and economic tools are needed to promote a circular economy. In its report the SRU furthermore underlines that the circular economy is seen as a solution to resource scarcity and a driver of employment and welfare in Europe and Germany. In reality, however, the use of primary raw materials continues to increase. The fact is that currently only a small part of the material demand is covered in a circular way, as waste management lags behind the requirements of the circular economy, the SRU argues. People and markets need a product policy that combines a good standard of living with lower demand for raw materials. The goal of reducing material flows must therefore be anchored in policy. Products should be designed to be compatible with the circular economy. High-quality recycling must finally become a reality. To put ideas into practice, policymakers must adopt new measures and give them a clear ecological focus, the SRU argues.
Circular economy: Putting ideas into practice
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Carbon rich peat soils: Proposal for a new model for effective regulation and rewetting

The open land in Denmark is dominated by agricultural production. More than half – roughly 60 percent of the landscape – is cultivated, which leads to annual greenhouse gas emissions of around 9 million tons CO2- equivalents (hereafter CO2e). But there are large differences across Danish agricultural soils and their effect on the climate. The majority consists of mineral soils with low carbon contents, which do not emit very much CO2 when cultivated. Just under 7 percent of the cultivated area consists of carbon rich peat soils. Peat soils are originally formed in wetlands like bogs and wet meadows and have a high content of carbon from old plant residues. When peat soils are oxygenated by drainage and plowing, the carbon rots and emits gases, primarily as CO2. In principle, this corresponds to the burning of fossil fuels although it happens more slowly. Hence, draining of peat soils contributes to increasing the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases thereby intensifying global warming.
Carbon rich peat soils: Proposal for a new model for effective regulation and rewetting
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A chaning sea

The objective of this report issued by the Advisory Council for Sustainable Development of Catalonia (CADS) is to build on actions taken by the Government of Catalonia with a view to ensuring their contribution to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 of the 2030 Agenda (on the marine environment) and their medium- to long-term transformative potential, in accordance with the magnitude of the challenges and, especially, the opportunities related to the so-called “blue economy”. The report also aims to develop the Government of Catalonia’s leadership in the promotion of the Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) in Catalonia and contribute to compliance with the EU's Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), which has set 2020 as the deadline to achieve Good Environmental Status of EU marine waters. The recommendations included in this CADS report are geared towards making progress in the sustainable management of the marine and coastal environment, making the conservation of the marine environment compatible with the socio-economic activity that takes place in it or directly affects it, in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
A chaning sea
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Housing Policy: Actions to Deliver Change

the National Economic and Social Council restates in its latest publication their long-standing position on housing and land-use policy: Ireland must bring about a fundamental change in its system of urban development, land management and housing provision. It must evolve from a speculative and highly cyclical system to a permanently affordable, stable and more sustainable system of housing. Pursuing that objective, this report is concerned with two related issues: first, bridging the supply gap by actively managing land and locational value for public good; second, bridging the affordability gap by engineering-in permanent affordability. This report details the steps necessary to bridge these two gaps by way of institutional adjustments, more effective use of existing policy instruments, and innovation to enhance the policy options available to the State. Overall, this report builds on the Council’s previous work in this critical area, moving from the recognition that direct public-policy influence is needed, to making specific recommendations for bold action to improve housing supply, urban development and affordability. The willingness to intervene displayed in the pandemic response and the urgency afforded to the issue in the Programme for Government should embolden policy-makers to act on these recommendations.
Housing Policy: Actions to Deliver Change
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Rethinking Land in the Anthropocene: from Separation to Integration

Only if there is a fundamental change in the way we manage land can we reach the targets of climate-change mitigation, avert the dramatic loss of biodiversity and make the global food system sustainable. The WBGU proposes five multiple-benefit strategies illustrating ways of overcoming competition between rival claims to the use of land. These should be promoted by five governance strategies, especially by setting suitable framework conditions, reorienting EU policy and establishing alliances of like-minded states.
Rethinking Land in the Anthropocene: from Separation to Integration
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Access to the city: How public amenities, housing and transport are key for citizens

More and more people want to live in cities because of the concentration of work, education and care. However, the possibilities for people to participate in urban society in the Netherlands are diminishing because access to housing, transport and public amenities has declined for many of them, the Dutch Council on the Environment and Infrastructure (Rli) concluded in their latest report. To guarantee access to the city for everyone, it is essential to investigate constantly whether sufficient consideration is being given to the opportunities individuals have and the impediments they face. Changes in policies and government investments are needed. The Rli recommends a number of specific changes, ranging from A) Assessing the impact of policy for the living environment on access to urban society, to B) Creating room for civil initiatives that improve access, and C) Improve access to public amenities, housing and transport.
Access to the city: How public amenities, housing and transport are key for citizens
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Laying the financial foundations for a sustainable recovery from the corona virus crisis in the EU

In its position paper the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) declared that the package of measures put forward by the European Council in July, with its 30% climate target and the financial assistance for those states and sectors hit especially hard by the corona virus crisis, contains many elements worthy of support. The RNE thus welcomes the proposal from heads of state and government as a sound basis for discussion. However, in the course of negotiations with the member states in the European Parliament further, improvements must be achieved. In its position paper , the RNE recommends, among other things, that A) the guiding compass to follow be that of sustainability, in particular the landmark announcements from Commission President Ursula von der Leyen regarding the European Green Deal and climate protection. As well as that B) the New Generation EU recovery fund be implemented swiftly, and; C) that the currently insufficient allocation of monies to international cooperation within the multiannual financial framework (MFF) be increased. The RNE further welcomes the EU summit supporting the allocation of additional EU funds for sustainability-related topics, such as for expanding EU emissions trading. Own monies for non-recycled plastic waste as well as a digital tax and a carbon border tax are planned. These funds can, however, only be allocated if all members states give their approval
Laying the financial foundations for a sustainable recovery from the corona virus crisis in the EU
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Annual Review 2020

As set out in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, a key task of the Climate Change Advisory Council in Ireland is to conduct an annual review of progress made over the previous year in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and furthering the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and sustainable economy and society by 2050. This is the Climate Change Advisory Council’s fourth Annual Review of progress on transition.
Annual Review 2020
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Using the CO2 budget to meet the Paris climate targets

How much CO2 can Germany still emit if it is to make its fair contribution to compliance with the Paris Agreement? In this chapter of the Environmental Report 2020, the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) exemplifies how the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement can be translated into a national CO2 budget that can serve as a yardstick for future national climate policy.
Using the CO2 budget to meet the Paris climate targets
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Guidelines to a sustainable future

The NFFT’s newest publication divides the 34 strategic objectives and the assigned 77 tasks of the National Framework Strategy on Sustainable Development into 12 thematic groups and highlights the links between the Hungarian and international sustainable development goals (SDGs). These groups were designed to arrange the strategic objectives of the National Framework Strategy on Sustainable Development into clear and readily comprehensible themes (e.g. quality education). The 12 points of national sustainability are meant to serve as a summary of equivalent worth of the strategic objectives and tasks highlighting the most important data and messages. The presentation of the Framework Strategy in 12 points could be useful for those who would like to obtain a deeper understanding of the various dimensions of sustainability and become active participants of the sustainability transition in their own profession, work (business sector, education or local governments) or in their everyday lives.
Guidelines to a sustainable future
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Towards an ambitious environmental policy in Germany and Europe

Against the background of the Corona pandemic, climate change and biodiversity loss are currently receiving less attention. However, the long-term threat to the natural foundations of life persists. With this Environmental Report, the SRU is addressing environmental policy topics which require urgent action. The current crisis has revealed that our lives and economic activities are vulnerable to a previously unsuspected degree. As different as the two crises are, one thing they have in common is that they can only be overcome through collective and decisive action. The resuscitation of the economy which is now required should be used to find new ways of doing things. In Germany as well as in the EU, it is important that the political system proves it is capable of taking action in response to the enormous ecological and economic challenges. The report focuses on the following themes: climate policy, the circular economy, water protection, sustainable neighbourhood development, noise regulation,, urban mobility and the future of EU environmental policy.
Towards an ambitious environmental policy in Germany and Europe
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Six paths towards sustainability: a toolkit to promote a systemic transformation towards sustainable development in Finland

The Global Sustainable Development Report shows that we are heading towards the sustainable development goals of Agenda 2030, but much too slowly. Inequality is increasing, climate change is advancing, biodiversity is decreasing, and waste volumes are growing. These phenomena are affected by several interconnected factors. However, we can change course if we identify the interlinkages between the aforementioned problems and steer our societies comprehensively in a more sustainable direction. The Finnish Expert Panel on Sustainable Development has now published recommendations that focus more closely on what these interlinkages mean in the Finnish context and what actions need to be taken.
Six paths towards sustainability: a toolkit to promote a systemic transformation towards sustainable development in Finland
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