Belgium Environmental Sustainability in the EU Belgium Environmental Sustainability in the EU Environmental sustainability refers to the value and benefits of the environment to businesses and the society that may improve lives in future; it entails the improvement of the quality of human life and wellbeing on earth for present and future generations (Eurostat and European Commission, 2009). In Europe, the EU commission warns of a looming energy crisis and climate change; hence it is important to consider the sustainability of Belgium and determine whether it can achieve the sustainability requirements of the EU.
As a member of the EU, Belgium complies with energy policy and sustainable development policy of the EU (EREC, 2009). Since energy is the main source of climate change, the country regulates energy and electricity products so that the companies involved behave sustainably. For instance, Energy Policy of Belgium which is split in over various government levels awards green certificates for those companies that comply with the policies of environmental sustainability. Non-renewable energy use in Belgium results in various externalities. The most known externality is greenhouse gas emission and its effect on climate change.
This externality is caused mainly by extraction and use of non-renewable energy in oil and gas industries as well as motor vehicle industry. It results in climate change. In 1990, gas emission in Belgium was recorded in terms of CO2 as 146 million tons (EREC, 2009). By 2012, CO2 emission had reduced to 109,000 Mt. Belgium ratified the Kyoto protocol of 2003 which sets a reduction of greenhouse gas emission by 7.5% annually (EREC, 2009). Reduction of greenhouse gas enables the country to contribute towards the EU’s goals on climate change. Another externality resulting from non-renewable energy is energy desertification and deforestation.
Use of non-renewable energy sources leads to desertification and deforestation because it involves cutting down of trees, clearance of land for the extraction of oil, and water pollution which kills plant and animal life. One key aspect of solving climate change and other externalities of non-renewable energy sources is to use renewable energy sources. 77% of energy consumed in Belgium comes from fossil fuels while 21% comes from nuclear power (EREC, 2009).
The main renewable sources of energy in the country are hydropower, wind power, and biomass. Biomass and Biogas were used to generate 3.5 TWh in 2009, representing 3.8% of the total domestic energy consumption. Wind power is a fast-growing renewable energy source in Belgium. The use of wind power in Belgium depends on regional governments (Brussels-capital region, Walloon region and Flemish region). Wind energy producers get green certificates. The current technology is made up of wind turbines in the windiest areas of the country. The wind turbines are mainly installed offshore. Onshore turbines have been installed only in Walloon and Flemish regions.
In 2012, the total number of operational wind turbines was 498, producing 1080 MW of electric power (EWEA, 2013). In 2014, 16% if the energy consumed in Belgium comes from wind power. Belgium targets to produce 13% of its electricity and heating energy from wind power by 2020. Of the targeted 17TWh renewable energy in Belgium by 2020, 47% is expected to come from Wind Power (EWEA, 2013). There is a great potential of wind power source of energy as the country offers green certificates as incentives for further development of renewable energy.
However, this is affected by limited space for the development of onshore turbines. Belgium still relies mainly on non-renewable energy. This has resulted in negative externalities including greenhouse emissions and climate change. These effects cause negative impacts on sustainability of the environment; hence slowing economic growth of the country. However, the growth of wind power in the past few years has brought optimism of enhancing renewable energy. With the green certifications provided by the Belgian’s energy policy department, there is a great potential of enhancing environmental sustainability as a source of continuous economic growth in future. References list EREC (2009).
Belgium: Renewable Energy Policy Review. Belgium: EREC. Eurostat and European Commission (2009). Sustainable Development in the European Union: 2009 monitoring report of the EU sustainable development strategy. Luxemburg: European Communities. EWEA (2013). Wind in Power: 2012 European Statistics. Accessed April 14, 2014 from www. ewea. org/fileadmin/files/library/publications/statistics/Wind_in_power_annual_stat istics_2012.pdf