INFORMAL MEETING OF MINISTERS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: A REVIEW

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After two days of environmental discussions in Dublin Castle, Ireland is left wondering just what all this “eco-friendly” jargon is about.

At a press conference on Tuesday 23rd April following an Informal Meeting of European Environment Ministers, Irish Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan revealed that 48% of European citizens don’t fully understand the labels on “green” products.

Being eco-friendly should be an easy and feasible way for consumers to help protect our environment; why is there so much hassle and confusion surrounding the eco-option?

At the Meeting, Minister Hogan said that a new EU initiative will provide the solution.  The move will see universal and recognisable labels, clearly showing a product’s eco-ratings and its country of origin, introduced across all member states.
Minister Hogan went on to discuss other methods of tackling our energy problems, stating that taxation on coal and solid fuels would be preferable to raising income tax in a nation already burdened with unemployment issues.
The EU Ministers also discussed ways to increase our efficiency in regard to environmental conservation, in light of the theme of the Irish Presidency of generating “stability, jobs and growth”.  Minister Hogan suggested that the increased development of work around environmental issues would in turn have a positive spin-off effect on our economy, boosting job growth as well as finding a more intelligent use of current resources.
Accompanying Minister Hogan at the press conference were European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potocnik, and Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, both of whom stressed the importance of reaching set targets and goals by 2030.  They emphasised that due regard must be paid to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and that negotiations underway to decide upon a new global climate agreement.
Overall, the meeting stressed the need to add clarity to eco-friendly products, to cut down on emissions and non-renewable energy, and to speed up progress on environmental issues by setting strict 2030 deadlines and ensuring these goals are met.  The next few months and the development of the global climate agreement will further clarify just what the EU needs to do in order to combat the environmental concerns our countries are currently faced with.
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