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Environmental sustainability in the European Union

Environmentalsustainability in the European Union


Anoverview of environmental sustainability

Froma social science perspective, sustainability is the ability to shunaway from depletion of natural resources thus maintaining a long-termecological balance. Therefore, Environmental Sustainability simplymeans the rates of renewable resource harvest, unrenewable resourceexhaustion and pollution creation that can be sustained immeasurably.Thus if a renewable resource cannot be retained indefinitely, then itis said to be not sustainable. According to Hamilton (2016),environmental sustainability master programs are geared towardsfostering sustainable engineered systems with a capability toreinforce human welfare and ensure sustained natural ecosystems.These systems provide ecological services that are vital to humansurvival.

Environmentalresponsibility is of paramount importance in the world we live intoday. The primary rationale is due to the mutual relationship thatexists between humankind and the ecosystems. Individuals directlybenefit from the surrounding hence the need for environmentalsustainability. The environment can be maintained through variousways. They include air purification, treatment of water catchmentareas, proper disposal of garbage and maintenance forests among othermeasures. This means that the society is called upon to producenothing that may require the future generation to suffer. They shouldalso deliver and design products and services that contribute to thebest sustainable economy. In the preservation of biodiversity, thecommunity is called to use materials that maintain the biologicaldiversity of natural resources as well as make use of sustainableenergy sources while improving the efficiency of energy.

Inthe past decades, the European Union has been able to enact a vastrange of environmental legislations all aimed at reducing air, waterand soil pollution. Today, over 18% E.U’s domain has beenclassified as protected regions for nature. E.U citizens enjoy thehighest quality of water globally. In an attempt to safeguard thesurroundings, the 7thEnvironment Action Program (EAP) has been documented, and it containssignificant environment policies guiding Europeans until 2020. Theprimary objectives of this master plan include to protect andconserve the artificial and natural habitat, to convert E.U into aresource efficient and low-carbon economy and to protect E.U`scitizens from environmental–related challenges (TheEuropean Union, 2015).

Renewableenergy sources and their future

Accordingto Reuters (2013), renewable energy can lift countries living belowthe poverty line to new levels of prosperity. This claim forms animportant foundation for the European Union’s efforts to advocatefor the use of renewable energy sources (energy derived from naturalprocesses that can constantly be replenished). Use of renewablesconsiderably reduce environmental pollution which is in most casescaused by the burning of fossils. Environmental degradation caused byburning fossils is catastrophic, and by just preventing it the worldis saved from the detrimental effects of climate change. Due tosignificant investments made by the E.U on renewables, there has beenthe innovation of green energy which ensures energy minimization,pollution prevention as well as reduction of excessive material use.Globally, the investments in renewable energy totaled to about $286billion in the last year with countries like the United States andChina heavily investing in the solar, hydro and wind energies.Renewable energy such as solar power contributes to more than 20% ofthe energy used globally.

Accordingto research by International Energy Agency, solar power generatorscan produce much of the world’s electricity and within 50 years.This will lead to a considerable reduction in the emission fromgreenhouses that pollute the environment (Reuters, 2013). In therecent past, renewable energy has displaced conventional energy inpower generation where many countries are using renewable energy aswell as importing and exporting this form of energy. Moreover, therehas been space heating in the latest development where many countrieslike China uses solar water heating. This kind of biomass heating hasspread to other nations such as Sweden where its use is more ascompared to that of oil. It is predicted that soon this innovationwill spread to a considerable number of nations worldwide

Thetransport industry has not been left behind in renewable energyconsumption. In most of the European countries, vehicles usebiodiesel which is made from fats using transesterification. Also,solar automobiles are other forms of innovation in the transportindustry. A solar car is one in which solar energy is used to powerthe primary parts of the vehicle`s propulsion. It is poweredsignificantly by direct solar energy where the photovoltaic cellsconvert the solar energy directly into the electric energy (Reuters,2013).

Anoverview of Romania’s potential for using solar energy

Romaniais among the major European`s nations with a vast potential forrenewables. This capability has been attributed to its maritimeclimate, southern location, and diverse geography. The country cantap energy from various sources such as the wind, solar, biomass,geothermal and hydropower sources among others. Moreover, this stateis characterized by a combination of political goodwill as well ascomprehensive energy laws all which are geared towards promoting theproduction of renewables and attaining the clear targets for alltypes of power generation (Bujac, 2011).

Dueto its strategic location, Romania receives European B sunlight whichmakes the country to have a potential for solar energy. The amount ofradiation level in Romania is better when compared to other nationswith a temperate climate. Sun radiation reaches a maximum figure ofabout 1.49KWh/msq/day mainly around the month of June (Romanianmarket overview, 2013). According to research by Bujac (2011), solarenergy can be moderately harvested in most parts of the country.Nonetheless, this resource is abundantly available in the southernregions of the nation and Dobrogea. The country has a potential ofabout 1.2TWh taking into consideration solar electricity alone.

Externalitiesassociated with non-renewable energy use

Anexternality can be defined as the external costs or benefitsassociated in extracting natural resources. Non-renewable forms ofenergy tend to impose more negative externalities particularly in theform of pollution and environmental degradation. This extraction ofnon-renewable energy results in costs which are catered for by thesociety and are not reflected in the market price of thecorresponding resource. Such expenses include clean-up costs,healthcare services for individuals affected by pollution, globalwarming due to climate change and low productivity among others.Fossil fuels are also limited, and thus cannot be used over anextended period without being depleted. Nonetheless, there exist somepositive externalities stemming from non-renewable resources. Forinstance, the fossils used in producing fuel can also produce carbon(IV) oxide that is in turn used to produce cement. Non-renewableresources like coal are the main alternative form of energy in theplane as they can use the green energy like vehicles. Additionally,the non-renewables sources are cheaper and quicker to get the jobdone as compared to other green energy.


Thenon-renewable energy sources are cheap and readily available in theshort run as compared to the green energy. This has made thenon-renewable energy the only option in most of the developingnations which are cash-strapped and lack the capability to trapenergy from natural sources. In such states, it becomes economical touse non-renewable power in the short-run as compared to the greenenergy which requires high capital investment but less maintenancecost. However, given that non-renewable energy sources contributemuch to the destruction of the natural ecosystems hence impairinghuman survival, then countries outside E.U should make considerableefforts to reduce their use. This is because there is a need toprotect the generations to come and remain more focused on a bettertomorrow than today.


Bujac,F. (2011). Evaluatingthe potential of renewable sources in Romania(1st ed., pp. 29-32). Denmark: Aalborg University. Retrieved 19November 2016, fromhttp://projekter.aau.dk/projekter/files/43947478/Master_thesis_Florin_Bujac.pdf

EuropeanUnion. (2015). SustainableDevelopment – Environment – European Commission.Ec.europa.eupg.1.Retrieved 18 November 2016, fromhttp://ec.europa.eu/environment/eussd/#

Hamilton,B. (2016). EnvironmentalSustainability | NSF – National Science Foundation.Nsf.gov.pg. 1Retrieved 18 November 2016, fromhttps://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=501027

Reuters,T. (2013). Renewableenergy.En.wikipedia.org.Retrieved 19 November 2016, fromhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy

Romanianmarket overview. (2013). RomanianMarket Overview.Romaniasolar energy. Pg.1 Retrieved18 November 2016, fromhttp://romaniasolarenergy.blogspot.co.ke/2011/11/romania-market-overview.html