EU warns wasting environmental resources could spark new recession

Janez Potočnik, European Union commissoner for green affairs, says unless habits change scarcity could see prices spike


The overuse and waste of valuable natural resourcesis threatening to produce a fresh economic crisis, the European union environment chief has warned.

Janez Potočnik, the EU commissioner for the environment, linked the current economic crisis gripping the eurozone with potential future crises driven by price spikes in key resources, including energy and raw materials.

"It's very difficult to imagine [lifting Europe out of recession] without growth, and very difficult to imagine growth without competitiveness, and very difficult to be competitive without resource efficiency."

Unless consumers and businesses take action to use resources more efficiently - from energy and water to food and waste, and raw materials such as precious metals - then their increasing scarcity, rising prices and today's wasteful methods of using them will drive up costs yet further and reduce Europe's standard of living, Potočnik warned.

He said: "We have simply no choice. We have to use what we have more efficiently, or we will fail to compete. Resource efficiency is a real competitiveness issue for European companies."