The first two years of this decade have been a wake-up call in terms of the climate crisis. Weather extremes have been becoming more frequent all over the planet, while the ice at the poles is melting faster than ever. Now we have entered a new year and, even though worldwide emissions are continuing to rise and 2023 might become the hottest year in history having started with record-breaking temperatures during New Year’s Eve in Europe, it is also a chance for new resolutions. Therefore, instead of focusing on the doomsday predictions of our future, we can start to understand the challenges ahead as opportunities to re-think the current state of play and imagine the future we want to live in.
So, what could our future green world look like? It would imply that fresh air is accessible to all humans - even those living in big cities. Therefore, the face of big cities would have changed due to new mobility options that focus on principles of sharing instead of individual traffic. Cars, buses, and trains would be electric, fueled completely by green energy. Generally, the streets would be less frequented, making it safer for pedestrians and giving children more space to play. For bikes, there could be extra highways making it convenient to cycle. Cities would also be greener with plants and green spaces all around providing habitat for birds, pollinators, and other animals. Also, clean water would be the normality, so that jumping into the rivers of the city in summer, could be done without thinking twice.
The economy would be fully circular, with products being designed sustainably so that once bought would last. If something would be damaged, repairing would be the first and cheapest option. Instead of throwing things away, they would be used for recycling. Overall less would be consumed, and as a result, everyone would have more money to spend on leisure activities, such as vacations or activities with friends and family. Furthermore, buildings would be energy efficient and made out of sustainable materials, with power and heat being generated from clean sources.
Another emphasis would be put on restoring biodiversity. Forests would spread again and nature would be in the region for everyone. For the people living in rural areas, this would provide new job possibilities in the roam of sustainable tourism. Also, the sector of agriculture would have changed its food supply chain to a fair, healthy, and environmental-friendly system where especially the farmers benefited from. Another great side effect would be that by breathing cleaner air, being surrounded by healthy ecosystems, and eating healthier food the health and well-being of the people would have improved drastically.
How EMAS can help us get there
This idea of a green future sounds promising and it is not too far off. The Green Deal sets the EU on a path to becoming climate neutral by 2050, taking the climate crisis as the challenge and opportunity to transform our economy and societies. For companies and other organisations it is, therefore, necessary to figure out new ways to operate to reach the goal of climate neutrality in the future. With EMAS the European Commission has developed a credible and effective tool that provides organisations to continuously strengthen their environmental performance and helps them to become drivers of positive change.
EMAS-registered organisations have to examine their environmental impacts considering all relevant conditions, such as climate, air or water quality, resource availability, or biodiversity over the whole life cycle of its products, activities, and services. From there, actions and clear targets are set up to address the direct and indirect impacts. Annually, an audit by an external verifier is performed as well as the organisations are required to write an environmental report, to communicate the actions, measures, and future targets set with EMAS. Implementing EMAS, therefore ensures a serious commitment to environmental improvement.
- Publication date
- 4 January 2023
- Directorate-General for Environment