European Union

Coal pollution

G7 agree to close all coal-fired generating stations by 2035

Energy ministers from the G7 countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union — agreed at a meeting in Turin, Italy, to close all coal-fired generating stations in their countries by 2035 if not sooner. Putting an end date on coal — the most polluting of all fossil fuels — has been highly controversial at international climate talks. Until this point, Japan, which derived 32% of its electricity from coal in 2023 according to the climate advocate Ember, has blocked progress on the issue at past G7 meetings.

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Whale jumping

E.U. pledges €3.5 billion to protect world’s oceans

At the Our Ocean Conference in Greece, the European Union demonstrated its strong engagement for international ocean governance by announcing 40 commitments for action for 2024. These actions will be funded by €3.5 billion from various E.U. funds, including €1.9 billion for sustainable fisheries in Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Poland, and Portugal.

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"One World" sign

A group of older Swiss women win first-ever climate case victory in the European Court of Human Rights

The women, mostly in their 70s, said that their age and gender made them particularly vulnerable to the effects of heatwaves linked to climate change. The court said Switzerland’s efforts to meet its emission reduction targets had been woefully inadequate. The ruling is binding and can trickle down to influence the law in 46 countries in Europe.

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Illustration of the ChatGPT logo on a brain

E.U. regulators pass the world’s first sweeping artificial intelligence regulations

The E.U. says the regulations seek to “protect fundamental rights, democracy, the rule of law and environmental sustainability from high-risk AI, while boosting innovation and establishing Europe as a leader in the field.” Applications that will be banned include social scoring, emotion recognition in schools and workplaces, and “AI that manipulates human behavior or exploits people’s vulnerabilities.” The historic AI Act is likely to come into force in early June.

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Birds eye view of tropical rainforest deforestation. An earth mover removes trees which are then burnt

E.U. Parliament votes to criminalize most serious cases of ecosystem destruction

The European Union has become the first international body to criminalize the most serious cases of environmental damage that are “comparable to ecocide.” Ecosystem destruction, including habitat loss and illegal logging, will now be punished with tougher penalties and prison sentences. Member countries will have two years to put the updated directive into national law.

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Bee on yellow flowers

E.U. passes landmark law to restore 20% of Europe’s degraded land and sea by 2030

The European Parliament has approved the Nature Restoration Law – setting a target for the E.U. to restore at least 20% of its land and sea areas by 2030, and all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050. With over 80% of European habitats in poor shape, the E.U. Nature Restoration Law aims to restore degraded ecosystems in all Member States, help achieve the E.U.’s climate and biodiversity objectives and enhance food security.

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Woman wearing head covering

E.U. reaches first-ever agreement to eliminate various forms of violence against women

The European Union has reached a historic agreement to protect women from different forms of violence, including female genital mutilation, forced marriages, and online harassment. Violence against women and girls is one of the most systematic and common human rights violations globally. According to the European Council, one in three women in Europe has experienced physical or sexual violence and 600,000 have undergone female genital mutilation.

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Wind turbines amid clouds

Wind power overtakes natural gas in the E.U. for first time ever

The ⁠European Union saw a record drop in fossil fuel power last year, according to a new analysis by energy think tank Ember. In 2023, coal generation fell by 26%, while gas generation fell by 15%. Along with a record buildout of renewables and a downturn in demand, the decline of fossil fuels led to an unprecedented drop in emissions from generating electricity, which fell by 19%. Now, for the first time, wind power supplies more electricity for Europe than either natural gas or coal.

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Cosmetics

E.U. will force cosmetic companies to pay to reduce micropollutants

Under draft rules that follow the “polluter pays principle”, companies that sell medicines and cosmetics will have to cover at least 80% of the extra costs needed to get rid of tiny pollutants that are dirtying urban wastewater. Governments will pay the rest, members of the bloc said, in an effort to prevent vital products from becoming too expensive or scarce.

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EU flag at night

E.U. fossil fuel CO2 emissions hit 60-year low

The European Union pumped out 8% less carbon dioxide from the fossil fuels it burned in 2023 than it did in 2022, pushing these emissions down to their lowest level in 60 years. The fall is the steepest yearly drop on record behind 2020, when governments shuttered factories and grounded flights to stop the spread of Covid-19, according to analysis from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

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