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Science for Environment Policy: Global Environmental Impacts of EU Trade in Commodities

22.11.2013
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Science for Environment Policy: Global Environmental Impacts of EU Trade in Commodities

There is much to be said for the increased globalisation of trade markets...

Environmental pressures driven by EU consumption but faced by other countries
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, land and water use all exert pressures on the environment; however, complex international trade links can make it difficult to identify their root causes. New research has now shown to what extent consumption in the EU drives displacement of all three of these environmental pressures to other countries.
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Affluence drives unsustainable use of land and sea
The amount of land and ocean that a country uses in order to produce and trade food or other commodities increases by over a third for each doubling of income, research shows. Thus, as nations become richer, and lifestyles become more affluent, pressure on natural resources increases.
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Measuring environmental pressures of consumption in EU countries
A tool for analysing and comparing environmental pressures from production and consumption in Europe is presented in a recent report. Its results suggest that the consumed products that exert the most pressure on the environment include construction goods and food products. The report also highlights the difficulty of assessing the true environmental impact of imported goods, which are often produced using less eco-efficient processes than those found in Europe.
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International trade drives nearly a third of threats to species
A pioneering study has estimated that 30% of threats to species are driven by international trade. The researchers identified the products and supply chains which lead to biodiversity loss, and suggest that further loss can be reduced through regulation, supply chain certification and consumer labelling.
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A global picture of Europe's demand for biofuels
A recent report calls for improved protection of biodiversity in the production of biofuels. It highlights Europe's current dependence on biofuels produced in other parts of the world, causing negative environmental impacts associated with biofuel crops to be transferred to other countries.
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Tackling the illegal trade of environmentally-sensitive goods
Policy measures need to address the key drivers behind illegal trade in environmentally-sensitive goods such as wildlife and timber. A recent report assesses both the drivers and impacts of five major types of environmentally-damaging illicit trade. It suggests that international licensing schemes and national policy regimes with economic tools could reduce illegal trade.
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