EurActiv - Letters to the Editor


Combating the economic crisis by building more infrastructure (like motorways) and exploiting our already over-exploited Earth even more in the process is not the right approach. Whoever thinks along such lines fails to understand both the debates of recent years and the Stern and Sukhdev reports!

To put discussions on the right track again:

1) What we need to do is to reduce our ecological footprint, whether in CO2 emissions, sealing soils,
exploiting minerals and other raw materials (for houses, streets, dams…) or elsewhere.

2) The minerals exploiting industry should focus more on recycling materials, instead of exploiting new quarries, gravel pits etc.

3) Exploitation (and destruction) of Natura 2000 sites is mostly due to having avoided exploiting other areas, for example farmland. But the sites protected under the Birds and Habitats Directives and Natura 2000 in most member states, cover less than 10 % of the land surface. Why should exploitation then be accepted in these few – and ecologically most important – areas?
The first step must be to prove the need for raw materials. If this need is proven, then it is also legitimate to use other areas, e.g. agricultural land.

It is always a question of prioities, and the 2010 target to stop the loss of biodiversity is clearly one on which all member states and the European Commission have agreed.

4) In the discussions on business and biodiversity, the extracting industry has also committed itself to the binding principles and regulations in European law, namely the nature directives, the EIA and the SEA. Similar commitments are found in Countdown 2010.

Claus Mayr

Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU)

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  1. Claus Mayer is right about nature reserves not being suitable as sacrifices to the devouring hunger of economics-as-usual. Any possible economic recovery rests not on how much of our future we undermine with more ecological or financial debt, but with the quality and depth of our revision of economics.

    Decades of worsening ecological and social problems have not stimulated sufficiently powerful ideas or changes. Now we have an economic crisis as a further prompt to think again. Let’s not wait for anything worse to happen and let’s not fool ourselves about the scale of ambition that’s needed.

    A good starting point would be for ecological damage not to be reduced but reversed. The machinery of economics is destroying our collective future only because we tolerate it being set up so that’s all it can do. So we don’t need to run the machine slower, with less growth and less damage. We need new machinery which is set up to run faster and faster, creating wealth, ecological resources, co-operation and well-being all at the same time.

    New economic tools such as ‘precycling insurance’ make this achievable, but it remains to be seen whether decision-makers will even notice that the era of patchwork policies and partial solutions has ended. If they do, then there is a chance for a happy ending to the human story.

    James Greyson global recovery think-tank

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