The European Union is taking another step towards its goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions with an investment of over €110M in LIFE projects. The green deal, announced on Thursday, will support integrated projects for environmental and climate protection in 11 EU countries.
Climate neutral and zero-pollution by 2050
The EU has set an aggressive goal of becoming climate neutral and zero pollution by 2050. As part of this effort, the European Commission is funding major environmental and climate projects in Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, and Slovenia.
The projects will also contribute to the green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has an estimated investment of €806.9B. The green recovery plan is designed with the goal of making Europe greener, digital and resilient.
Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President responsible for the European Green Deal, says, “We have no time to waste when it comes to the climate, biodiversity and pollution crises. The LIFE programme provides direct support to projects across the EU and enables entire countries and regions to protect and restore nature. Nature is our biggest ally and we need to take care of it so it can take care of us. My congratulations to each of the projects selected today.”
The integrated projects will allow member states to pool additional EU funding sources, including agricultural, structural, regional, and research funds, as well as national funding and private sector investment. The Commission expects these complementary funds and investments to reach €10B in value across 11 projects.
Green Deal: what are the objectives
The green deal objectives are classified into five areas: nature conservation, clean air, waste management, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation. The nature conservation goal will be met with a project designed to introduce measures to halt and reverse decline of biodiversity in France’s Grand Est region. This project will see the setting up of three pilot forest areas.
A project in Finland is designed to mitigate the adverse effects of human activities threatening marine and coastal biodiversity. Both these projects will aid the EU’s biodiversity strategy for 2030.
The EU is funding a project in Poland implementing measures to improve overall air quality in the region of Silesia, where air pollution is among the most severe in Europe. The project will replace small-scale solid-fuel domestic heating devices with less polluting alternatives. This project contributes to the EU’s 2030 greenhouse gas emission target and the Zero Pollution Action Plan.
A project in Cyprus will improve the infrastructure and collection systems for recyclable and biodegradable waste. In Latvia, the LIFE project will focus on improving separate waste collection and reuse of municipal waste. A project in Denmark focuses on waste prevention and setting up a better waste regulatory framework.
In Slovenia, the LIFE funding will aim to achieve a better recycling rate of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste. These four waste management projects are part of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan and the Waste Framework Directive.
The LIFE funding will help Lithuania reach its national energy and climate plan (NECP) objectives. This includes more efficient buildings, climate-friendly mobility, an energy-saving industry, and enhanced green public procurement. A project in Estonia will see creation of tools and solutions necessary for renovations on a range of buildings in three cities. This Estonian project will act as a model that can be replicated across Estonia and other member states.
In the Netherlands, the LIFE funding will be used to stimulate climate change adaptation across water management, infrastructure, agriculture, nature, health, and spatial/urban planning. The EU is also funding a project in the Moravian-Silesian Region in Czechia to increase the region’s climate resilience.
LIFE programme: what you need to know
The EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action is called the LIFE programme. The project began in 1992 and has co-financed more than 5,500 projects across the EU and beyond. The programme provides funding for integrated projects supporting the implementation of EU environmental and climate legislation and policies.
The integrated projects funded by the LIFE programme also help member states to comply with EU legislation in six areas: nature conservation, water, air, waste management, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation. For the 2021-2027 period, the Commission has increased LIFE programme funding by nearly 60 per cent and it now stands at €5.4B.