BRUSSELS, Belgium, February 19, 2020 (ENS) – The European Commission will invest €101 million for new projects under the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action. The funding will support 10 large-scale environment and climate projects in nine EU Member States, helping Europe’s transition to a sustainable economy and climate neutrality.

The newly funded projects are located in Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Slovakia, and Spain.

Estonia

Forests like this one in Estonia will be protected under a newly funded LIFE project. 2014 (Photo by Anita)

The projects will support the European Green Deal which carries the EU’s ambition of becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

The European Green Deal as it now stands would increase the EU’s greenhouse gas emission reductions target for 2030 to at least 50 percent and towards 55 percent compared with 1990 levels. Planned legislation is intended to help restore and conserve ecosystems and species, move towards a circular economy, improve air and water quality, boost sustainable finance and increase climate resilience across Europe.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has said that the European Green Deal would be Europe’s “man on the Moon moment,” as the plan would make Europe the first climate-neutral continent.

On December 13, 2019, the European Council decided to move ahead with the European Green Deal, with an opt-out for Poland. On January 15, the European Parliament voted to support the deal as well, with requests for higher ambition.

Executive Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans said, “The European Green Deal is about improving the well-being and prosperity of our citizens while protecting nature and the climate. LIFE projects have played an important role for many years and have a big impact on the ground. With today’s €100 million investment we will help to preserve precious natural habitats, keep the air clean, and cut pollution in many lakes and rivers in Europe.”

Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said, “LIFE-integrated projects enable Member States’ authorities to make a real difference to the environment and people’s lives. The projects will help Member States to conserve nature, improve air and water quality, and make the economy greener. This will improve our resilience to the changing climate.”

The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. It has been running since 1992 and has co-financed more than 5,400 projects across the EU and in third countries. At any given moment some 1,100 projects are in progress.

LIFE-integrated projects were introduced in 2014 to help Member States comply with key EU environmental, nature and climate legislation.

The budget for 2014-2020 is set at €3.4 billion in current prices. For the next long-term EU budget for 2021-2027, the Commission is proposing to increase funding for LIFE by almost 60 percent.

LIFE-integrated projects improve EU citizens’ quality of life by helping Member States comply with EU legislation in six areas: nature, water, air, waste, climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation.

The projects support the implementation of environmental and climate legislation in a coordinated manner and on a large territorial scale, leveraging funding from other European Union sources, national and regional actors and private investors.

The LIFE investment is set to mobilise over €6.5 billion of complementary funds, as Member States can also make use of other EU funding sources, including agricultural, regional and structural funds, Horizon 2020, as well as national funds and private sector investment.

The newly funded LIFE projects fall into six categories:

flamingos

Flamingos on Larnaca Salt Lake, one of the most important Natura 2000 sites in Cyprus. 2015 (Photo by Michael Duxbury)

Nature conservation: Integrated projects in Estonia, Ireland and Cyprus will help to conserve Europe’s nature and improve the management of the EU Natura 2000 network of protected areas. Many important habitats and species will benefit, from forests, farmlands, grasslands, coastal areas and peatlands to pollinators. These habitats also serve as valuable carbon sinks.

Waste management: A project in Greece will promote waste prevention and re-use, reducing the amount of municipal waste going to landfill. New waste indicators and standards will be developed to help build the circular economy.

Air quality: LIFE funding will assist Slovakia in complying with EU directives on air quality, reducing the population’s exposure to harmful air pollutants. Neighbouring Czechia, formerly known as the Czech Republic, affected by similar air quality problems, will also benefit.

Water: Integrated projects working at river basin-scale will protect and improve water quality in Ireland and Latvia’s rivers and lakes, enabling these countries to meet their obligations under the EU Water Framework Directive.

Climate change adaptation: LIFE funding will support increased resilience to climate change. Projects will integrate climate change adaptation into planning and other policy areas in Spain as well as building adaptation capacity in France using nature-based solutions.

Sustainable finance: Also in France, an integrated project will help bridge significant knowledge gaps in sustainable finance and bring green financial products into the mainstream.

Detailed descriptions of all 10 projects can be found here.

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