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European Commissioner for Environment
Towards a more resource efficient Europe
Launch by Commissioner Potocnik of the Commission Flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 Strategy: "A resource-efficient Europe"
Brussels, 26 January 2011
I am happy for the opportunity to present to you the communication on resource efficiency which the Commission adopted today.
As you know, we have embarked on a Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
We are taking this strategy forward through 7 flagship initiatives. Today, the Commission presents the last of the 7 flagships, namely that of resource efficiency.
Our objective is to support the shift to a resource-efficient, low carbon economy that makes better use of natural resources in order to achieve sustainable growth.
Our starting point is simple: we need economic growth, but what kind of growth? It cannot only be about quantity but must be more about quality. In the 20th Century the world population grew four times, and economic output 40 times. We increased our fossil fuel use by 16 times, our fishing catches by 35, and our water use by 9.
Continuing our current patterns of resource use is not an option. If we continue business as usual, we will quickly hit the physical limits of our planet.
So we have to make sure that in promoting the economic growth that we badly need we do not sow the seeds of a potentially graver crisis, one that is irreversible. We can bail out banks; we can bail out the economy; we cannot bail out the planet.
With today's communication on resource efficiency, we present our conceptual and policy framework to drive the gradual transformation of our economy.
I would like to define the main messages as follows:
What I would like you to retain from today's communication is that through more resource efficiency, clearer long-term policies and investments in green innovation, we are strengthening the basis for growth and jobs and delivering on our climate, energy and environment objectives.
From my many contacts with business, I know that business is moving in this direction. Business clearly sees the constraints and opportunities for its growth in the mid to long run.
The question is whether policy makers and politicians are ready to shape the economic framework conditions in order to support business in this direction.
With today's communication, the Commission shows that it has the conviction, the leadership and the policy framework for doing this.
Resource efficiency is a strategic necessity for Europe but also an economic opportunity we cannot afford to miss.