'The nature of the current financial crisis should give us pause for thought'
Prof. Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director EEA, following the launch of the Environment and Outlook Report 2010 - SOER 2010
Good environmental policy requires up to date and reliable information. In the new MIRA Indicator Report 2010 from the Flemish Environment Agency the most recent facts and figures concerning the environment in Flanders have been brought together in a useful reference. Over 100 indicators together treat the entire environmental field, ranging from hazardous substances over climate change to waste. The environmental pressure of the different sectors, such as households and transport are also studied. The indicators give signals of the state of the environment and whether we are on the agreed path. This publication is intended for policymakers, environment experts and all (aware) citizens searching for information about the environment in Flanders. Annual reporting on the state of the environment must make it possible to observe changes in good time so that the (environmental) policy may respond appropriately.
The crisis strengthens the trend of decreasing pressure on the environment, but the trend towards an energy-efficient economy is slowing
The recent decrease in economic activity directly results in decreasing environmental pressure. In this way the crisis increases the trend towards lower energy consumption in Flanders and the industrial air and water emissions have decreased. The combination of lower activities and environmental measures has also resulted in decreased emissions from the transport of goods. In that way greenhouse gas emissions have remained under the Kyoto ceiling for the third consecutive year and Flanders has built up a reserve margin for the emissions in 2010-2012.
The financial-economic crisis has also had negative impacts on the environment. The absolute environmental pressure may have decreased but the trend towards a more energy-efficient economy has been slowed down (but not stopped). Indeed, if production falls while capacity remains the same, it often operates less (energy) efficiently. New investments in energy-saving technologies were probably also postponed.
The financial-economic crisis also forces the Flemish Government to make savings. In 2008 and 2009 the expenditures for the environment dropped, both in absolute and relative terms. Furthermore the crisis played a significant role in the evolution of environment related taxation revenues. These revenues decreased mainly as a result of the lower economic activity but also as a result of the reduction or even abolition of some levies. Based on the tax revenues Flanders therefore shows a trend towards a less green taxation system.
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