Energy continues to be a primary focus of U.S. bilateral and multilateral cooperation with Europe, at political and technical levels.
EPA's energy-related cooperation with the European Commission and key EU Member States includes shale gas development, energy efficiency, and methane capture and use.
Shale Gas Development
Shale gas development - especially the process of hydraulic fracturing
– is a topic of strong interest to EPA's European partners who hope to learn from U.S. experience as they consider how to approach the development of this resource in their own countries. EPA cooperates with the Department of State's Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program
and with bilateral partners such as the European Commission, Poland and the United Kingdom to share information and experience on relevant scientific, policy and regulatory aspects of the issue.
is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, which helps citizens save money and protect the environment through the use of energy efficient products and practices.
To promote and use the ENERGY STAR label for office equipment throughout Europe, EPA and the European Union signed an official bilateral Agreement in 2001. This Agreement promotes concrete action on energy efficiency issues, clarifies technical standards for equipment carrying the ENERGY STAR logo, and encourages and facilitates harmonization of test procedures.
In January 2013, then-Administrator Lisa Jackson and then-European Union Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger signed the second renewal of the Agreement which promotes use of a common voluntary label and a consistent set of performance standards for computers, monitors, printers, copiers, multi-function devices and servers in the United States and the European Union. This common approach will increase the global supply of and demand for energy-efficient office equipment. It also will help manufacturers avoid the burden of complying with multiple labeling programs. The renewed Agreement will last for 5 years and will extend through 2017.
Global Methane Initiative (GMI)
Methane is a greenhouse gas that is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The Global Methane Initiative is a public-private partnership to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the cost-effective, near-term recovery and use of methane, while expanding opportunities to provide clean energy to markets around the world. GMI focus areas include agriculture, coal, landfills, oil and gas, and wastewater.
The United States is a founding Partner of GMI, and EPA serves as the primary U.S. and administrative focal point for the global effort. The European Commission became a GMI Partner in 2007, and is providing additional expertise and resources to advance methane capture and use in Europe and in the developing world. Other European GMI Partners include Albania, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Cooperation includes complementary research on computational toxicology
, which ranks chemicals more efficiently based on risks to humans and the environment, and provides an alternative to animal testing. EPA maintains ongoing technical relationships with experts at the European Commission, with Member States such as France, and within the OECD to facilitate data exchange and sharing of methodologies and approaches. For example, EPA is working with a French cosmetics firm
to investigate new screening methods that are faster, cheaper, and will reduce the use of laboratory animals which, if successful, could be used to evaluate thousands of chemicals found in commonly-used products.
The EPA-EC Implementing Arrangement also includes long-standing collaboration between EPA,the European Environment Agency, and the European Commission on a category of research known as Ecoinformatics
,Exit which includes environmental information, data exchange, environmental indicators, and information access.
The United States continues to build and enhance multilateral partnerships to improve environmental governance in Europe and worldwide. Through exchange of information and experts, technical meetings, and implementation of selected projects and partnerships, EPA works with European partners to:
- strengthen institutional capacity for environmental protection and management;
- promote and support engagement of civil society and public participation; and
- improve decision-making through increased access to information for policy-makers and civil society.
The Regional Environmental Center (REC) for Central and Eastern Europe
The REC's environmentally friendly conference centre, which has a target of zero annual CO2 emissions.
The Regional Environmental Center (REC) for Central and Eastern Europe is a great success story of building capacity for sound environmental governance in Europe. Created as the result of a U.S. Presidential Initiative in 1990 (with EPA as the designated lead agency), the REC now has country offices in each of the capitals of the Central and Eastern European region, and is a key forum in which countries can come together to address important international environmental issues.
The REC Sustainable Development Academy Exit focuses on building the capacity of national and local government officials, business representatives, and students to advance sustainability efforts. SDA programs raise awareness of environmental and sustainability issues; provide tools to initiate and implement sustainable development policies; and create networks to foster the exchange of experience and information. EPA has participated in SDA courses to share EPA-developed tools and expertise that would be relevant for SDA participants in other countries.
International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE)
EPA collaborates with European partners through participation in INTERPOL’s Pollution Crime Working Group
. Exit This working group facilitates global criminal enforcement efforts and enhances national capabilities to address environmental crime. The U.S. (EPA and Coast Guard) share leadership of this Working Group with Belgium and the Netherlands. In particular, EPA is working closely with the Environment Agency for England within the INTERPOL Working Group, sharing intelligence to stop illegal shipments of e-waste to developing countries.
While cooperation with the EU through the European Commission remains a primary focus of EPA’s cooperation with Europe, EPA also works directly with individual European countries to share information, leverage resources, and provide complementary expertise as national-level environmental managers and regulators.
Strengthening Environmental Management at the National Level
For example, EPA works closely with the Environment Agency for England Exit in the United Kingdom (UK) on a wide range of technical topics, including enforcement and compliance, permitting, shale gas development, air quality monitoring, and e-waste. EPA and UK experts share ideas and strategies and learn from one another through this exchange.
EPA’s long experience with issuing civil and administrative enforcement penalties provided input to UK legislation Exit
, which is designed to enhance domestic regulatory capabilities through the adoption of non-criminal approaches.
EPA also cooperates with the Environment Agency and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
to evaluate and predict impacts on human health and ecosystems from air pollution, including ground-level ozone, fine particles, acid deposition, global climate change, eutrophication, mercury and other toxic air contaminants. The goal of the collaboration is to coordinate air quality research efforts and develop high quality scientific products and modeling tools that will support sound environmental policy decisions in the U.S. and the UK.
Bilateral Joint Statements
EPA has signed non-binding “joint statements” with some European partners to provide a general framework for technical cooperation, although such statements are limited in number and are not required for such cooperation to take place.
Coordinated Development Assistance
Many nations, include the U.S. and our European partners, provide financial and technical assistance to developing countries who are working to improve their environments. Working in partnership with other nations, EPA strives to maximize the impact of environmental assistance programs, and to ensure that financial resources provided for environmental work in the developing world are utilized in complementary ways.