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New LIFE projects will put Europe’s biodiversity on a path to recovery

The European Commission has approved an investment package of more than 290 million euros for 132 new projects under the LIFE Programme for the environment and climate action. The new LIFE projects will help Europe become a climate-neutral continent by 2050, put Europe’s biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030 and contribute to the EU green recovery post-COVID-19. 

“The climate and biodiversity crises are truly existential crises and there is no time to lose,” commented Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal. “COP26 in Glasgow acknowledged the need to accelerate our actions still this decade. With the European Green Deal, the European Union is working to reduce emissions, restore nature and ensure sustainable use of resources. We can only succeed if we work together, across sectors. LIFE projects are a perfect example: they bring citizens, public bodies, industry and NGOs together to work for the climate and environment.”

Among these new projects, several come from Central and Eastern Europe.

A Bulgarian project team will protect breeding, wintering and migrating populations of bird species by reducing deaths from electricity infrastructure. They will identify the riskiest medium-voltage power lines and replace overhead electricity lines with underground cables in the most important sections.

A Polish project will demonstrate the feasibility of using renewable energy for cooling public buildings, supporting the EU Renovation Wave, launched in October last year. 

With the WOODMEADOWLIFE project, Estonia’s Environmental Board plans to restore 700 hectares of overgrown meadows – an area the size of almost 1,000 football fields – in Estonia and Latvia. The team will plan with landowners and managers on how to look after the restored sites in the longer term. Also, a help desk will provide advice and support to those willing to restore and manage their wooded meadows. Species including the three-toed woodpecker, the hermit beetle and the lady’s-slipper orchid are expected to benefit.

Greece’s CO2toCH4 project will demonstrate a process for storing this energy as well as for capturing and using CO2. The team will construct a smart mobile unit for hybrid energy storage, which can be installed in remote energy systems such as on islands that are not connected to a central energy grid. The storage process uses renewable energy in water electrolysis, with the hydrogen produced in the process biologically converted into methane as a non-fossil biofuel.

“The interconnected crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution are the defining challenges of our time,” added Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. “To address them, we need a profound transformation of our societies and economies, achieving a carbon-neutral future and learning to live within the boundaries of our planet. LIFE projects show how this can be done. They have a strong impact on the ground, showcasing the added value of European cooperation.” 

Overall, 39 projects will support the implementation of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives; 45 projects will mobilise 162 million euros for the environment and resource efficiency; 8 projects will raise awareness of environmental issues; and 34 projects will address climate change mitigation and adaptation.

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