According to international organisations, the most serious environmental problems that we face today are the loss of biodiversity, plastic pollution, loss of forests, air pollution, agricultural activity, fossil fuel burning, ice melting, food waste, food and water insecurity and finally poor governance in relation to environmental issues.
These problems are primarily due to issues of a) environmental quality leading to air, land and water pollution, b) degradation or destruction of geomorphology and ecosystems which can also lead to changes or losses in biodiversity, c) energy waste, d) inadequate management of refuse/waste , and finally e) broader mismanagement of natural resources.
An additional issue concerning the Environment is what is known as Climate Change. Climate Change on the one hand implies direct physical risks to humans and ecosystems, such as floods, storms, droughts, forest fires, and on the other hand it is also expressed by chronic changes in geomorphology, water resources (e.g. ocean acidification) and other indirect socio-economic impacts. The indirect effects of climate change include, for example, food and water shortages in certain regions of the world, which may lead to climate-induced migration of local populations.
Due to the importance of the above in the conservation of the natural environment and natural resources, the protection of biodiversity and the protection of human health and the survival of mankind, the United Nations (UN), in its policy on Sustainable Development, has identified 17 goals. Of these, five are directly related to the Environment and Climate Change. These goals are:
- Objective 6: Clean water and sanitation
- Objective 7: Affordable and clean energy
- Objective 13: Climate action
- Objective 14: Life below water
- Objective 15: Life on land
Source: UN Communications Materials
An extensive number of agreements (e.g. the Paris Agreement), detailed guidelines and individual targets has been developed for each of these objectives in almost all sectors of the economy and social life.
A classic example is the attempt to reduce to zero carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions at a very specific point in time in the "immediate" future. In particular, the European Union has adopted the Environment and Climate Agreements and is committed to at least a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, at least a 32% contribution of renewable energy sources to the energy mix and at least 32.5% energy efficiency improvement. By 2050 it promises a transition to an economy with net zero greenhouse gas emissions.