Background of the towards low-carbon societies project

The European Commission is looking for cost-efficient ways to make the European economy more climate-friendly and less energy-consuming.

Preventing dangerous climate change is a strategic priority for the European Union.

Europe is working hard to cut its greenhouse gas emissions substantially while encouraging other nations and regions to do likewise.

By 2050, the European Union could cut most of its greenhouse gas emissions. In this framework, the idea of a low-carbon society has been launched as an aim of future societies.

In a low-carbon society, the population will live and work in low-energy, low-emission buildings with intelligent heating and cooling systems.

They will drive electric and hybrid cars and live in cleaner cities with less air pollution and better public transport.

Many of these technologies are already existing but still, an ideal future seems to be far off. Besides cutting the vast majority of its emissions, Europe could also reduce its use of key resources like oil and gas, raw materials, land and water.

In this frame, land use questions can be seen as one of the key issues on the way to European low-carbon society.

In practice, one of the worst problems in creating a low-carbon society seems to be a lack of versatile specialists who could act as bridges between ideal ambitions and complex practices.

For example, in the field of European land use planning and management, one of the most important challenges is to reconcile land use practices with environmental concerns. It is a challenge which involves various policy levels and different sectors, not forgetting local sentiments at the grassroots level.

Monitoring and mediating the negative environmental consequences of land use while sustaining the production of essential resources is a major priority of policy-makers.

Vast numbers of strategies, agendas and directives have been produced for advising national, regional and local levels to make land use planning and management decisions which would consider different viewpoints, goals and endeavours of stakeholders.

Special concern has been attended for improving the information flow between policy-makers and citizens when focusing on land use issues.

Even if numbers of methods and environmental tools have been devised for analyzing environmental change, the relationship between people and their environments is complex and this has caused local and regional conflicts between different land use practices.

According to future scenarios and national strategies, a lot of new environmental specialists are and will be needed in all fields of operation.

Study plans and career roadmaps for environmental specialist have already been created, but an educational deficit is still evident. The problem is that the educational sector does not have a straight relation to a real working life, especially to business life, which would be the best concerned to mentor and direct the educational structures.

A close co-operation between working life and education and working life-based precision issues as threads of study programmes would be a way to train environmental specialist who would be able to respond to challenges of land use issues and, broadly, to challenges of a low-carbon society.

From the viewpoint of employment, a reformulation of a philosophy of study structures would open totally new possibilities to become employed more directly after studies.

Issues like a low-carbon society, the sustainable use of natural resources and land use practices acknowledging these ambitions are locating on a scale which does not apply to individual life and which are therefore hard to assimilate.

Lack of the interface with so-called human scale causes unawareness and even conflicts between different sectors and stakeholders of the land use practices. Therefore, professionals are increasingly needed to meet the challenges related to the environmental impacts of the use of natural resources, like the mining industry and (renewable) energy production.

It is quite easy to collect quantitative data concerning environmental impacts but the challenge is how to measure and analyze the social and cultural aspects of activities.