Posts tagged European Union

EC boost for green infrastructure

EC boost for green infrastructure

The European Commission (EC) has adopted a new Action Plan for encouraging the use of green infrastructure, and for ensuring that the enhancement of natural processes becomes a systematic part of spatial planning.

It aims to show how the EU’s Atlantic Member States, their regions and the Commission can help create sustainable growth in coastal regions and drive forward the “blue economy”, which has the potential to provide 7 million jobs in Europe by 2020

Environment commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “Building green infrastructure is often a good investment for nature, for the economy and for jobs. We should provide solutions that work with nature instead of against it, where that makes economic and environmental sense.”

The Plan will contribute to the EU’s “Blue Growth” strategy (IP/12/955) and is consistent with the Commission’s focus on regional collaboration to encourage sustainable growth and create jobs.

The strategy will focus on:

  • Promoting green infrastructure in the main policy areas, such as agriculture, forestry, nature, water, marine and fisheries, regional and cohesion policy, climate change mitigation and adaptation, transport, energy, disaster prevention and land use policies. By the end of 2013, the commission will develop guidance to show how green infrastructure can be integrated into the implementation of these policies from 2014 to 2020
  • Improving research and data, strengthening the knowledge base and promoting innovative technologies that support green infrastructure
  • Improving access to finance for green infrastructure projects – the commission will set up an EU financing facility by 2014, together with the European Investment Bank, to support green infrastructure projects
  • Supporting EU-level green infrastructure projects – by the end of 2015, the commission will carry out a study to assess the opportunities for developing an EU-wide network of green infrastructure.

Construction of Swansea University campus gets underway

£20m Europe Day boost as construction of Science and Innovation campus gets underway

Building work is set to start today on the Swansea University’s second campus that will create 4,000 construction jobs with a further 6,000 indirect posts supported in the wider economy.

Over £20 million from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government will be invested to build the centre which has also received backing from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The First Minister made the announcement whilst on site to mark the start of construction of the new campus which took place on Europe Day.

First Minister, Carwyn Jones, said: “I welcome the opportunity to be here on this significant day not only to mark the start of construction but also, crucially, to acknowledge the benefits to Wales of our relationship with Europe, including EU funding.

“This EU investment will help drive forward the development of the new Science and innovation Campus, creating a cornerstone for world-leading research and employment opportunities in the construction industry as work gets underway.”

The EMC will include state-of-the-art facilities to enable Swansea University to carry out research and development, particularly through collaborative projects with industry.  It will support a range of collaborations with businesses in sectors such as advanced engineering, the digital economy and low carbon technologies.

Finance Minister, Jane Hutt, said: “I am delighted we have been able to invest EU funds to pioneer innovation and deliver state-of-the-art education facilities, benefiting Swansea and beyond.

“We have a key commitment through our Programme for Government to enhance research and innovation to help increase Wales’ global competitiveness, and create jobs and growth. The European Structural Funds programmes in Wales are helping us to achieve this goal, having already generated a total project investment of around £400 million in R&D and innovation alone.”

EMC will accommodate the University’s Civil and Computational Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Materials and Mechanical Engineering as well as Printing and Coating activities.

The Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University, Professor Richard B. Davies, said:  “We are delighted to have been awarded funding from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government for the Engineering Manufacturing Centre.

“The EMC will provide world-class research facilities and a resource for industry to access world-leading expertise to help improve manufacturing products and processes and develop new ones, thus contributing to the economic regeneration of the region.”

Green Jobs are Vital for UK’s Energy Efficiency

The UK has been ranked as the most energy efficient country in the world according to a new study which calculates countries’ efforts to reduce energy use and shows the overall effect of green policies, contributing for the creation of thousands of new jobs in the renewable engineering industry.

The study was published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) which ranked the UK first among the world’s 12 largest economies, closely followed by Germany, Italy, and Japan, for reducing pollution in industry, transport and buildings.

British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Edward Davey, welcomed the International Energy Efficiency Scorecard by the ACEEE, emphasising the importance of low-carbon and renewable initiatives in the UK for future economic growth and sustainable development.

Mr Davey said: “The UK and the leading economies of Europe are now well ahead of the United States when it comes to energy efficiency. This is significant because countries that use energy more efficiently require fewer resources to achieve the same goals, thus reducing costs, preserving valuable natural resources, and creating jobs.”

The 12 largest economies, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union represent over 78 per cent of Global Gross Domestic Product;  63 per cent of global energy consumption; 62 percent of the global carbon-dioxide equivalent emissions.

Author of the report and ACEEE Senior Researcher, Sara Hayes, said that investment in cost- effective energy efficiency can help many countries to strengthen their economic competitiveness and create new jobs in the renewable industry.

Ms Hayes said: “While energy efficiency has played a major role in the economies of developed nations for decades, cost-effective energy efficiency remains a massively underutilized energy resource. Fortunately, there is a lot countries can do to strengthen their economic competitiveness through improvements in energy efficiency.”

What is your reaction to the new report by the ACEEE that rates the UK as the world’s most energy efficient country? Share your thoughts by commenting here or raising your voice on our Facebook and Twitter page.

LED Street Lighting Could Generate 85% of Energy Savings

LED (Light Emitting Diode) street lighting can generate to up to 85% energy savings, a new report by electronics giant Philips and the Climate Group found. 

The results of a major two-and-half year study looking to improve energy efficiency in some of the world’s largest cities, including New York, London and Sydney, have indicated significant potential for the green economy by replacing traditional light bulbs with highly efficient LED technology.

Lighting is estimated to be responsible for nearly a fifth of global electricity use and around 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The report shows that LED lighting technologies could double lighting efficiency and have a climate impact equivalent to eliminating half the emissions of all electricity and heat production in the European Union.

Mark Kenber, CEO of the Climate Group said: “This report clearly highlights that LEDs are ready to be scaled-up in towns and cities across the globe. LED technology is energy efficient, scalable and positively impacts on the public; it is the Clean Revolution in action. We are now calling on Governments to remove policy obstacles and enable a rapid transition to low carbon lighting.”

It has been estimated the LEDs could save 670 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year. The report showed that citizens of pilot cities preferred LED lighting because of social and environmental benefits.

A recent reportby the International Labour Organization concluded that the green economy could create up to 60 million jobs; the Climate Group, Philips and partners who participated in the report are urging the government to improve LEDs in cities and make a green investment that will create millions of high-value jobs across the world.

What’s your reaction to the significant savings that could be made from LED street lighting? Would you consider replacing traditional light bulbs at your home with LED lighting to cut energy cost? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below:  

EU: Millions of Jobs Could be Created in the Renewable Sector

Business Green reported today that a new job plan estimated to create 20 million jobs across Europe will boost the renewable sector and make low-carbon industries central to the 27 EU member states.

The proposed job package could create millions of new jobs in Europe’s construction, recycling and renewable industry. The scheme has been launched to deal with high level of unemployment in countries across the European Union and is expected to create long-term job opportunities.

European Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, welcomed the proposals saying that energy efficiency measures could lead to 2 million jobs in the renewable industry by the end of 2020, Business Green reported.

Commissioner Hedegaard encouraged EU member states to comply with energy-efficiency targets set in the Energy Efficiency Directive which was introduced to improve energy efficiency by helping consumers using energy more efficiently at all stages of the energy chain.

Ms Hedegaard emphasised the importance of the renewable industry for creation of jobs and future economic growth.  “If Europe does not step up its green economy efforts, we risk losing an immense source of quality jobs,” she said. “If we water down our efforts on energy efficiency, we water down the job potential as well.”

What is your reaction to the new job plan likely to create millions of jobs in the renewable sector? Are you more optimistic about the future of the renewable sector? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below:

Fewer University Applications Will Not Hit the Building Sector

Despite the fall in university application numbers, the building sector is confident it will complete development programmes across many universities in the UK- leading student accommodation builder “Unite” told Construction Enquirer today.

With fees rising to up to £9,000 per year from 2012, there has been a decrease of almost 9% in the number of students applying to universities in the UK – university applications’ body UCAS announced yesterday.

However, that will not hit university development programmes according to “Unite” because the actual number of students enrolling for a university place would remain close to the existing figure.

The building giant argues the reduction in applications means that 2012/13 applicant numbers are broadly in line with those of two years ago, meaning it will not hit any major redevelopment projects in the building construction sector.

The firm said: “Demand for university places still outstrips supply by approximately 32% and means that more than 156,000 students applying to study in 2012 will fail to secure a place.”

Unite does not expect the decline in applications to translate into a reduction in actual student numbers which could have a negative effect to the industry.

They said: “Based on our current reservations for 2012/13, which are in line with the same point in 2011, we remain confident of achieving rental growth of 3-4% for the year.”

There have also been signs of an increase in EU students applying to the UK, demonstrating the continued appeal of UK Universities for students from abroad.

 

Do you think the increase of tuition fees is the main reason for less student applications at universities? What affect is it going to have on the major redevelopment programmes across Universities in the UK? Share your thoughts by commenting here:  

Business Leaders United for Infrastructure Projects in Britain

More than 100 business leaders, economists and MPs from all parties are pressing the government for more investment in infrastructure projects which will create hundreds of thousands jobs in the construction sector.

Letters to national newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and The Financial Times, call for a £17bn investment in High Speed 2 (HS2) between London and Birmingham which will create one million long-term British jobs.

A letter to the Daily Telegraph, which was signed by more than 100 business leader, states “We call on the government to approve plans for HS2 and to push ahead with its construction as soon as possible”.

The signatories come from a wide range of business interests including the likes of Simon Carr of Henry Boot, Naomi Connell of VolkerWessels, Paul Cook of Galliford Try, Chris Webster of Miller Construction and John Wood of Tolent Construction.

A letter in the Financial Times goes on to suggest that if Britain does not invest more into the infrastructure it will be left behind from other European countries.   The letter states: “The absence of a high-speed rail line connecting the north of England to London and the rest of the European Union is a continuous embarrassment to British businesses promoting UK plc overseas.”

The letter suggests that a high-speed rail, along with other major infrastructure projects in Britain, is crucial for giving confidence to businesses and stimulating economic growth in time of recession. It says: “Economic studies show that effective modes of transport, including high-speed rail, enable entrepreneurs to get their goods and services to market in a secure and timely manner and facilitate the movement of workers to the most suitable jobs.”

The group of businesses and economists urging the government to approve the rail link argue that it would be a boost for business, especially across the north of England, and will create jobs and ease transport overcrowding.

What is your reaction to business leaders pushing the government to approve plans for HS2 and its construction? Do you welcome the HS2 as an opportunity for you and your business? Share your thoughts with us by commenting below:

The Government’s investment for UK renewables to reach £2.5bn

New figures released by the European Commission as an update on countries’ performance against renewable energy targets by 2020 suggest around 12,000 jobs will be created across the UK through renewables investment announced in 2011.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has released new figures outlining significant investment in renewable energy projects during fiscal year 2012. The new data indicates that with three months still to go until the end of this fiscal year, companies have announced plans for almost £2.5bn of investment in renewable energy projects.

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne believes that renewable energy projects are not only important to reduce UK’s carbon emissions but also to stimulate economic growth and create jobs.

Mr Huhne said: “Renewable energy is not just helping us increase our energy security and reduce our emissions; it is supporting jobs and growth across the country, and giving traditional industrial heartlands the opportunity to thrive again.”

The figures for the UK show the country has increased its renewable energy consumption 27 per cent from 42.6TWh in 2008 compared to 54TWh in 2010.

However, this is still a long way of the 15 per cent target imposed by the EU for 2020. The report also showed that wind generation rose 46 per cent from 7TWh in 2008 compared to 10.2TWh in 2010.

Insisting on UK’s commitment to meet renewable energy targets set by the EU, Mr Huhne highlighted the importance of renewables for the economy and businesses in the UK.

“Our renewable target is less demanding than other EU member states, but the effect is bringing real jobs and investment,” said the Energy Secretary. “I do not want the UK to be left behind by turning our back on the green economy. The agreement to negotiate a global deal secured at Durban has reinforced major nations’ commitment to cutting carbon. We cannot afford to stand alone while the world wises up.”

Do you think the Government will meet the renewable energy targets imposed by the EU by 2020? How is the implementation of the program going to benefit your business? Share your thoughts with us by commenting below: 

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