Go green locally, EU says

June 14, 2013 at 9:08 AM

NANTES, France, June 14 (UPI) -- Green policies at the local level can help with broader goals for European economic recovery without harming the environment, a commissioner said Friday.

The European economy is struggling to recover from the global economic crisis of 2008. Europe's statistical office Eurostat, reported Friday the rate of unemployment increased 0.5 percent among the 27 member states during the first quarter of 2013.

European Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said EU members were focused on economic recovery.

"But it doesn't mean it has to be done at the expense of the environment," he said in a statement in Nantes, France. "Greening our production processes, innovations and consumption patterns and making them more resource efficient will undoubtedly result in cost savings and create new markets."

European leaders are debating climate and energy goals for 2030. Existing policy calls for a 20 percent reduction in emissions and a 20 percent gain in renewable energy production by 2020, based in a 1990 baseline.

Potocnik said urban policies can go a long way toward a sustainable economic future for Europe.

"It is the people who live and work in our cities who are the key actors in greening them -- by opting to use public transport, by recycling, separating and reducing waste, by protecting water resources and by buying green products," he said.

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