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The environmental consequences of firms and consumers

Quotation: Frank Pothen (2013): Introduction to the environmental Impact Area The environmental consequences of firms and consumers: http://beta.liaise-toolbox.eu/node/1216

Description

Industrial activities play an important role in the economic well-being of Europe contributing to sustainable growth. However, industrial activities also have a significant impact on the environment. The largest industrial installations account for a considerable share of total emissions of key atmospheric pollutants and also have other important environmental impacts, including emissions to water and soil, generation of waste and the use of energy.

An important approach for measuring and reducing the environmental consequences of firms' activities makes them subject to an environmental assessment, on the basis of Directive 85/337/EEC ('Environmental Impact Assessment' – EIA Directive) or for public plans or programmes on the basis of Directive 2001/42/EC ('Strategic Environmental Assessment' – SEA Directive).

Note that the Impact Area ‘The environmental consequences of firms and consumers’ is connected to some of the specific aspects of economic, social and environmental impacts listed in Annex 8 of the Commission’s Impact Assessment Guidelines.

Annex 8.3 (Impacts on consumers) displays links to the guiding questions a) and b). It is to be asked additionally, if the option is likely to alter consumption patterns into more or less sustainable ones.

Annex 8.4 deals with impacts on SMEs. It might be the case that the option implies different incentives for SMEs than for larger firms, affecting the environmental consequences of firms more or less strongly depending on their size. Annex 8.4 provides procedures which can be used to analyze that.

Annex 8.5 is related to the impacts on technological development and innovation. This is closely linked to guiding question d) alluding to eco-innovation. Annex 8.5 provides an ‘Innovation Check-List’ which can be used to analyze, among others, effects on eco-innovation.

Annex 8.6 (Impacts on firms in terms of investment, operating costs, products and services) is linked to guiding question c). While costs, ability, and timing of financing in general are mentioned already, guiding question c) implies that it should be checked if the production and consumption of environmentally friendly goods is affected specifically.

This impact area is further specified by the taxonomy terms: Sustainable Production and Consumption, Production Prices of Environmental Goods, Environmental Incentives and Restrictions as well as Firms´ Pollution.

The European Commission has adopted a wide range of regulatory measures to improve environmental performance of industry and to enhance technology development: The reform of the European Chemicals Policy for example, is a central reform project of European Industrial and Environmental Policy (the REACH - European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use (EC 1907/2006)). The aim of REACH is to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances. At the same time, innovative capability and competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry should be enhanced.

An important approach for measuring and reducing the environmental consequences of firms' activities makes them subject to an environmental assessment (for individual projects on the basis of Directive 85/337/EEC, for public plans or programmes on the basis of Directive 2001/42/EC). The common principle of both Directives is to ensure that plans, programmes and projects likely to have significant effects on the environment are made subject to an environmental assessment, prior to their approval or authorisation.

To encourage European industry to implement environmentally sound policies, the EU has put several initiatives in place. The European Awards for the Environment, which takes place every two years, recognises the achievements of European firms that have designed innovative products, implemented successful environmental management programmes or worked on ground breaking projects with developing countries.

This text is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace any reference documents.

Legal basis for the Commission to act

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Web Resources

Contact

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Sustainable Production and Consumption

Production Prices of Environmental Goods

Environmental Incentives and Restrictions

Firms´ Pollution.

Publications and applications

Titel Type of practice Updated date
European Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010 Impact Assessment 2014-02-12 20:23
European Research for Impact Assessment Tools Publication 2014-04-17 14:41
IA Report: Building the Single Market for Green Products: Facilitating better information on the environmental performance of products and organisations (2013) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-24 12:36
IA Report: Communication concerning the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-03 12:08
IA Report: Communication on Winning the Battle against Global Climate Change Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-05 11:40
IA Report: Council directive on commercial diesel Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-03 22:56
IA Report: Defining the modalities for reaching the 2020 target to reduce CO2 emissions from new light commercial vehicles (2012) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-24 21:45
IA Report: Defining the modalities for reaching the 2020 target to reduce CO2 emissions from new passenger cars (2012) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-24 21:40
IA Report: Directive reviewing existing legislation on industrial emissions - Recast IPPC Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-03 22:37
IA Report: Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 (2011) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-27 13:30
IA Report: General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 "Living well, within the limits of our planet" (2012) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-25 18:26
IA report: Mid-term review on the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-03 22:29
IA Report: Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (2012) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-25 18:31
IA Report: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a Registered Traveller Programme (2013) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-24 13:32
IA Report: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on fluorinated greenhouse gases (2012) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-24 21:34
IA Report: Proposal for a Regulation on ship recycling (2012) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-25 18:34
IA Report: Proposal for a Regulation setting emission performance standards for new light commercial vehicles as part of the Community’s integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-03 11:54
IA Report: Renewable Energy Road Map Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-03 20:22
IA Report: Safety of offshore oil and gas prospection, exploration and production activities (2011) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-27 12:37
Rare Earths Futures Project 2013-12-20 15:43
The Policy-Relevancy of Impact Assessment Tools: Evaluating Nine Years of European Research Funding Publication 2014-07-09 16:32

Content for this term

Title Type Updated date
E3ME Model 2014-04-23 15:36
ERICATool Model 2013-11-26 08:29
Farm System Simulator(Part of SEAMLESS) Model 2013-11-26 08:29
Mari Jüssi Expert 2014-03-17 12:26
Peterson, Kaja Expert 2014-03-05 09:38
Pothen, Frank Expert 2014-03-18 18:34
Reis, Stefan Expert 2013-10-29 13:28
The environmental consequences of firms and consumers Impact Area 2014-01-22 16:31
WITCH Model 2013-11-26 08:29