Contentious Global Issues
Edited by H. S. Geyer
Chapter 15: Urban Environmental Policy in Europe: An Outline
R. Evans Introduction Cities are at the heart of Europe. Four out of ﬁve Europeans currently live in urban areas, which in turn account for around one-quarter of the European Union’s total land area. In some ways, this concentration of population may be seen as positive in that land use and energy costs per person are potentially lower, whilst there are economies of scale in the provision of basic services such as waste water treatment. However, it is equally the case that cities are the locus of environmental problems. For example, the ecological footprint of London – the ecological impact that the city has – is enormous. It is calculated that London needs twice the land area of the United Kingdom in order to support its activities. Londoners have an ecological footprint of 5.8 global hectares per person – three times what is available naturally (London ReMade, 2005) – or put another way, Londoners consume three times their ‘fair share’ of the globe’s resources. Londoners are not unusual. Although there are signiﬁcant variations between the living standards experienced in European cities, in general, European citizens have a high consumption lifestyle and as a consequence of this, high levels of consumption of energy, raw material and resources. This in turn is translated into urban environmental problems such as poor air quality, high levels of ambient noise, greenhouse gas emissions, urban sprawl, waste generation and traﬃc congestion. As from January 2007, there are 27 Member States comprising the European Union, with a number of...
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