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07 June 2010

Resource-use indicators seen as first step to efficiency

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Resource efficiency is one of the flagship initiatives of the 'Europe 2020' strategy for economic growth. Stakeholders stressed the need to establish coherent and clear indicators to evaluate the bloc's use of resources and progress made towards a more eco-efficient economy.

The main challenge for the Barroso II Commission is to make Europe more eco-efficient by improving environmental and economic resource management, noted Finnish MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (European People's Party), addressing a conference on measuring Europe's resource use yesterday (1 June).

But the main issue is figuring out how to measure resource use, said Pietikinen, who is also chair of GLOBE EU, a cross-party group of MEPs interested in shaping EU policy developments in the fields of the environment, sustainability and global warming.

Michael Warhurst from Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE), an NGO, stressed that measuring is the first step towards decreasing resource use and becoming a more efficient economy.

What gets measured gets attention and eventually gets done, agreed Stephan Evans, professor of life-cycle engineering at Cranfield University.

Evans noted that while businesses can easily measure the amount of waste or CO2 they produce, companies are unable to measure their resource use. He stressed that they need fair, clear and long-lasting indicators and tools to measure their resource use to ascertain whether they are successfully embarking on a more sustainable path.

Evans also argued that business wants legislation and high standards on the matter in order to create a legislative level playing field. Unless all companies are given the same tools they will not do anything to improve their resource use, he warned.

But greening production is not only an issue for internal company management but also a matter of consumer demand, Evans continued. He argued that if resource use is properly valued by consumers, businesses will quickly begin to pay attention to it.


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