EU greenhouse gas emissions


Environmental impact is “outsourced” to poorer EU neighbours by wealthy EU consumers.

A study published on Thursday found that poorer EU nations’ consumption patterns have a negative impact on the environment in wealthy EU nations, revealing harmful disparities across the continent.

The study compared GDP levels in EU nations to 10 key environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions, toxins in water and soil, air pollution, and land use, in supply chain countries.

Brazil, China, India, and Japan were included in the negative effects that extended beyond Europe, but the most striking findings were found on the continent.

“There are huge inequalities between the EU, and that was the surprising thing,” said the study’s co-author Klaus Hubacek from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

According to the study, which was published on Thursday in Nature Sustainability, non-EU nations like Moldova, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, and others were also affected.

“Eastern Europe consistently ranked as the region receiving the lowest share of economic value added compared to environmental pressures and impacts associated with EU consumption,” the press release said.

According to Hubacek, the researchers examined GDP growth in relation to consumption of food, clothing, manufactured goods, and services in comparison to environmental impact using a “giant matrix” of data from 1995 to 2019.

They discovered that “outsourcing” environmental impacts to places that sell consumer goods had a positive effect on GDP in wealthier European nations.

The impacts “increased notably outside the EU, while decreasing within the bloc,” the study said.

The reliance on older technologies and equipment that may be harmful or more polluting, some of which would not be permitted in EU countries, or lax environmental laws in poorer nations are some of the causes of the impacts on the environment.

The effect was also felt throughout the EU.

When compared to the economic benefits of producing goods that are largely exported beyond their borders, agricultural producers in Spain and Greece, for instance, experienced impacts on water, biodiversity, and land use that were disproportionate.

“It’s a fascinating part of the picture that we have rich and poor, and winners and losers, within countries and regions,” Hubacek said.

He suggested that consumers could alter their consumption patterns, such as consuming meat at lower prices from nations with lax environmental laws, and he also urged the EU to implement stricter import regulations.

A border tax adjustment could be implemented to raise import tariffs on goods from nations with higher environmental impacts.

F”It’s improving the efficiency along the entire supply chain, meaning we have to improve the environmental problems here, as well as abroad,” Hubacek said from the Netherlands.

“We can’t just focus on our own little backyard, but also see what damage we do elsewhere.”

Greenpeace initiated the study to investigate the impact of the EU’s Green Deal climate plan.


At Natural World Fund, we are passionate about stopping the decline in our wildlife.

The declines in our wildlife is shocking and frightening. Without much more support, many of the animals we know and love will continue in their declines towards extinction.

When you help to restore a patch of degraded land through rewilding to forests, meadows, or wetlands, you have a massive impact on the biodiversity at a local level. You give animals a home and food that they otherwise would not have had, and it has a positive snowball effect for the food chain.

We are convinced that this is much better for the UK than growing lots of fast-growing coniferous trees, solely to remove carbon, that don’t actually help our animals to thrive.

This is why we stand for restoring nature in the UK through responsible rewilding. For us, it is the right thing to do. Let’s do what’s right for nature!

Support our work today at and join in the solution!


Leave A Comment