The EASAC Environment Programme provides independent and leading edge scientific assessments and advice to EU environment policy communities, drawing together experts from across the science academies of the EU. Topics are selected by EASAC Council on the basis of advice from the Environment Steering Panel and can encompass a wide range of environmental issues of priority interest to the EU (such as climate change, air and water quality, wastes and resources, biodiversity, ecosystems and sustainability). Since 2013, work under the auspices of the environment programme has included:
A major analysis of trends in extreme weather events in Europe published in December 2013 which considers the implications for national and European Union adaptation strategies. This was based on a more detailed analysis of the underlying science and the measures available for adaptation by EASAC's Extreme Weather Working Group.
In November 2014, EASAC published a policy statement on shale gas and issues of particular relevance to Europe. This looked in detail at the special regional issues raised by proposals to exploit shale gas reserves due to:
In April 2015, a major project on the impacts of neonicotinoid insecticides on ecosystem services of importance to agriculture was released. This was a very detailed evaluation of the large amount of new evidence on the effects of neonicotinoids not just on honeybees but on the whole range of pollination, natural predator control and soil ecosystem services as well as biodiversity. The expert group brought together leading experts from 13 of EASAC's academies and reached clear conclusions which represented the current state of the science. The report was launched at a meeting in Brussels attended by over a hundred stakeholders and attracted substantial media coverage. EASAC's report provided valuable input to the Commissions revaluation of the science commencing in May 2015.
EASAC also completed a major analysis of the wide range of issues related to the general theme of Marine sustainability. This has a particular focus on the scientific aspects of a sustainable ecosystem-based approach to management of human activities, including seafood management. The report also comments on how the supporting science needs to be optimised, including the needs for observation, data infrastructures and relevant human-capacity building. The study was developed to be relevant to European Commission marine and maritime activities which include Horizon 2020, the Copernicus programme, the Blue Growth agenda, and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The interim results of this were announced in time for world Ocean Day on June 8, 2015 and the full report published in January 2016.
A report updating the recent scientific developments related to climate change and global warming was published to provide advice to European policymakers ahead of the December 2015 COP 21 meeting of the framework Convention on climate change. This came to the conclusion that the speed of climate change was proceeding in areas faster than IPCC models had predicted, that this meant that the 2°C target should be seen as an upper limit and that a lower target should be sought in international negotiations. The COP 21 outcome was consistent with this conclusion and EASAC recommendation.
Another controversial issue during 2015 was related to the circular economy, where the European Commission had withdrawn its earlier 2014 proposals and undertaken to provide a new policy by the end of 2015. EASAC thus established a working group during the winter of 2015 in order to produce a commentary which should inform discussion on the contents of a circular economy policy. This was published in November 2015 and the comparison has also been made between EASAC’s recommendation and the commission's policy announced in December.
An examination of the differences in greenhouse gas footprint between different sources of oil is also nearing completion and should be released in March 2016 (see current projects).
Current projects also include further issues related to the circular economy, and the multifunctionality of European forests (see current projects page)
The EASAC Environment Programme is guided by the Environment Steering Panel (ESP) which meets twice per year under the Chairmanship of Professor Lars Walloe. Their Programme’s Director is Professor Mike Norton.