European society must change to go green

A new report suggests society must transition away from existing resource-intensive societal systems

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By Jonny Bairstow

If Europe is to meet its sustainability goals, reduce environmental damage and mitigate climate change, it must transition away from existing resource-intensive societal systems.

That’s according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA), which says achieving a sustainable, low carbon future will be a huge challenge for European society because the high living standards seen on the continent are associated with unsustainable environmental pressures.

The report says preserving the resilience of desirable systems, such as the ecosystems sustaining humanity, will depend on overcoming the resilience of harmful systems such as the consumption-production cycle, which produces large amounts of waste and emissions.

It adds government frameworks are vital for changing such patterns and must be used to organise and regulate greener markets.

The EEA suggests green growth strategies can bring together the different public policy interventions able to support systemic change, including public investment in research and development, tax subsidies and demand-side policies.