The European Commission has approved an investment package of €222.7 million from the EU budget to support Europe's transition to a more sustainable and low-carbon future. The EU funding will spur additional investments leading to a total of €398.6 million, which will be used to finance 144 new projects in 23 member states.
The support comes from the LIFE Programme for the Environment and Climate Action, the EU's funding instrument for the environment and climate action. €323.5 million will go to projects in the field of environment and resource efficiency, nature and biodiversity, and environmental governance and information.
The projects illustrate the Commission's ongoing commitment to its flagship circular economy package. A significant number of awards have already been and will continue to be granted to EU member states to help make the transition to a more circular economy. Examples of recognised projects in 2016 include new, energy-saving, hydrogen-electric garbage trucks in Belgium; technologies for reducing the health risks of sludge in wastewater, pioneered in Italy; and a project to help Greek municipalities, such as Olympia, increase recycling rates.
In the field of climate action, the investment will support climate change adaptation and mitigation, and climate governance, and information projects totalling €75.1 million. Selected projects support the EU's target to reduce GHG emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030, contributing to the shift towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy. In 2015, such projects included restoration and carbon storage in peatlands in five EU countries (Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland), demonstration of the production of low-emission cement and concrete products in France, enhancing the climate resilience of vineyards in Germany and implementing adaptation measures in urban areas in Cyprus.
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"With the Paris Agreement entering into force, we must now focus on delivering on our promises. These projects will create the right conditions to promote innovative solutions and spread best practices in reducing emission and adapting to climate change across the European Union. In this way, they support the EU's implementation of the Paris Agreement,” Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete stated.
Here is the breakdown of the 144 new projects:
- 56 LIFE Environment & Resource-Efficiency projects will mobilize €142.2 million, of which the EU will provide €71.9 million. These projects cover actions in five thematic areas: air, environment and health, resource efficiency, waste and water. The 21 resource-efficiency projects alone will mobilize €43 million that will facilitate Europe's transition to a more circular economy.
- 39 LIFE Nature & Biodiversity projects support the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives and the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. They have a total budget of €158.1 million, of which the EU will contribute €95.6 million.
- 15 LIFE Environmental Governance and Information projects will raise awareness on environmental matters. They have a total budget of €23.2 million, of which the EU will contribute €13.8 million.
- 16 LIFE Climate Change Adaptation projects will mobilize €32.9 million, of which the EU will provide €19.4 million. These action grants are awarded to projects in five thematic areas: agriculture/forestry/tourism, adaptation in mountain/island areas, urban adaptation/planning, vulnerability assessments/adaptation strategies, and water.
- 12 LIFE Climate Change Mitigation projects have a total budget of €35.3 million, of which the EU will contribute €18 million. These action grants are awarded to best practice, pilot and demonstration projects in three thematic areas: energy, industry and land use/forestry/agriculture.
- 6 LIFE Climate Governance and Information projects will be dedicated to improving governance and raising awareness of climate change. They have a total budget of €6.9 million, of which the EU will contribute €4.1 million.
The LIFE Programme is the EU's funding instrument for the environment and climate action. It was founded in 1992 and has co-financed more than 4,300 projects across the EU and in third countries, mobilizing €8.8 billion and contributing €3.9 billion to the protection of the environment and climate. At any given moment some 1100 projects are ongoing. The budget for the LIFE Programme for 2014–2020 is set at €3.4 billion in current prices, and has a sub-program for environment and a sub-program for climate action.