36th EPA Network plenary, hosted by CENIA

This plenary meeting was organised online due to travel restrictions in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Miroslav Havranek, Director of CENIA, welcomed participants to the online plenary meeting, emphasizing the unfortunate but necessary decision to move the meeting online due to the worsening Covid-situation. He presented CENIA, the Czech Environmental Information Agency and Czechia.

Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the EEA, gave an update from the agency’s activities, underlining how the knowledge of the EEA and European agencies is in high demand considering current European policy priorities of climate and biodiversity, zero pollution and Circular economy.

Luc Bas, EEA, introduced session 2 on Decarbonisation and China, emphasizing the importance of including the global perspective in European discussions. Changhua Wu, Chief Executive Officer, Beijing Future Innovation Center, presented how China pursues systemic change to achieve carbon neutrality despite a heavy coal dependency. Sebastien Paquot, Head of Section Climate and Environment in EU Delegation to China in the European Commission, presented Decarbonisation processes in China, emphasizing the role of EPAs in demonstrating how Europe has succeeded in decoupling CO2 from economic growth.

Hans Bruyninckx introduced session 3 on Digitalisation and Sustainability solutions, which was a continuation of the twin transition discussions from the 35th EPA Network plenary. Alberto Arribas, EEA Scientific Committee member and Microsoft’s Sustainability Science Lead for Europe, gave Heads of EPAs a scene setting presentation with guiding principles on how they could approach digitalization. Marcel Dickow, German Environment Agency, presented the agency’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Laboratory for Sustainability Solutions Stefan Jensen, EEA, presented a joint EEA/EPA networking learning and development proposal, which will kick-off as follow-up to the plenary.

Hans Bruyninkcx introduced the session on EPA Network priorities. Mari Erlandsen, EPA Network Secretariat, presented an overview of EPA Network activities since the last physical plenary in September 2019. Luca Demicheli, ISPRA, presented developments in the new Interest group on Environment and tourism. Bettina Hitzfeld, FOEN, presented the work of the Interest group on GMOs. Tiina Karppinen, SYKE, presented the project measuring progress to a circular economy, focusing on socio-economic indicators. Laura Burke, Irish EPA, gave a short oral update from the Interest group on Better Regulation. Alessandro Bratti, ISPRA, gave an update on the Bellagio partnership and the work on monitoring Circular Economy. Melanie Sporer, EEA, and Burkhardt Huckestein, German Environment Agency, presented their work on Carbon Neutral organisations. Terry A’Hearn, SEPA, shared experiences on the cyberattack on the Scottish EPA on 24 December 2020. Hans Mommaas, PBL, and Georg Rebernig, Environment Agency Austria, gave updates on the chairmanship of IG Climate Change and Adaptation and IG Plastics. Luca Demicheli, ISPRA, presented a proposal to reactivate the group on Carbon Capture and Storage, and received expressions of interest from several EPAs. The plenary expressed thanks to Interest groups for activities and outputs produced amid a pandemic.

 On Friday 26 November, Patrick Child, Deputy Director-General of DG Environment, gave a presentation to Heads of EPAs of the priorities and the latest developments in DG ENV. Mauro Raffaele Petriccione, Director General in DG CLIMA, gave Heads of EPAs an update on the “Fit for 55” climate package, underlining the important role of EPAs connected to monitoring and analysis. The plenary agreed to invite DG CLIMA also to the next EPA Network plenary. Hans Bruyninckx presented the Secretariat and European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change. Ondrej Strecker, CEZ group, presented efforts to clean the Czech Energy grid. Georg Rebernig, Environment Agency Austria, presented work on sustainable finance and defining green investments. Laura Burke, Irish EPA, presented Ireland’s decarbonization plan, including the role of the EPA and restoration of peatlands.

Miroslav Havranek, CENIA, introduced session 6 on light pollution, addressed briefly at the 34th EPA Network plenary. Michal Bares, from the Czech Astronomical Society introduced how light pollution can be measured, emphasizing its consequences on health, wildlife, biodiversity and energy consumption. Giuseppe Marsico, ISPRA, presented Italy’s work on light pollution, which consists of a set of regional laws and local level monitoring. Jaroslav Merc, Slovak Astronomical Society, presented the issue from the perspective of Slovakia. Anna Paskova, Ministry of Environment in Czechia, introduced the need for a coordinated European action on light pollution.

Mari Erlandsen, EPA Network Secretariat, summarised the key outcomes of the meeting. Arnaud Leroy, ADEME, presented plans for the Paris meeting, planned to take place on 12-13 May 2022. Potential topics for discussion include environmental labeling, deforestation, just transition, and a carbon boarder adjustment mechanism (CBAM).