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Overhaul of EU Sustainability Rules Could Boost Economy $318 Billion

The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) this week published a major report calling on the European Commission to deliver widespread reforms to the region’s environmental and climate change policies, arguing that without drastic action, escalating climate and biodiversity risks will wreak havoc across the economy.

The report, “From crisis to opportunity: Five steps to sustainable European economies”, draws on more than 400 separate studies from the likes of the U.N., the OECD, the World Bank, McKinsey, Lord Stern and the EU Commission itself, which make the case for a greener economy.

It is published in the same week that finance ministers meet in Brussels to discuss European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s $334 billion investment plan and argues that bolder policies on resource efficiency in particular could deliver a comparable $318 billion boost to the EU’s economy, while also tackling regional security and environmental risks.

The report also draws on numerous studies detailing how failure to tackle climate and environmental risks has led to a scenario where flood damages have cost the EU more than $159 billion over the past 10 years, air pollution costs around $569 billion a year, and EU industries import more than $530 billion of raw materials no longer available in Europe.

“Instead of the short-term ‘grow dirty and clean up later’ flawed narrative, President Juncker and EU leaders should look at the real symptoms of our troubled economies: diminishing natural resources and markets failing to take this into account,” said Said Sébastien Godinot, WWF economist and author of the report, in a statement. “It’s simple: No economy can develop without natural resources.”

He added that it’s also not just about preventing future damage, but also capitalizing economically on new opportunities to embrace sustainability.

“Sustainable economies can bring huge benefits worth much more than Juncker’s Investment Plan every year and provide up to 20 million jobs by 2020,” Godinot said in the statement. “How? Largely by using fewer resources and less energy, fixing market failures and protecting nature in Europe.”

The report sets out a series of recommendations for enhancing the sustainability of the EU’s economy, centered around five priorities:

1. Establishing a new strategic vision through to 2050

2. Designing an ambitious energy and climate framework through to 2030

3. Delivering an “enabling framework” for resource efficiency

4. Building a more supportive fiscal framework

5. Restoring the EU’s position as an international leader on the green economy

Under these banners, the report recommends a host of policy reforms, including: a re-engineering of the tax system around the polluter-pays principle; a refocusing of public and private financing on sustainable infrastructure; a bolder plan for tackling the decline of fish stocks and other natural resources; and a permanent fix to the EU’s carbon market.

This article is courtesy of GreenBiz. See original here.