In 2021, the EU spent €292 billion on environmental protection programmes, the highest on record, according to statistics from the EU’s statistics agency Eurostat.
The total amount of money spent on environmental protection each year has risen by over 3% – increasing 54% since 2006. This includes money spent on both investments and consumption.
For the last 15 years, environmental protection expenditure as a share of GDP across the EU has remained stable at around 2%.
Last year, corporations made up around 55% of total expenditure, or over €150 billion in 2021 alone. European governments and non-profits make up 21% of spending, and households 21%.
Spending on environmental protection has increased across the board, even during the Covid-19 pandemic. Since 2006, corporations have spent 62% more on environmental protection, 41% more from government and non-profits, and 52% more by households.
According to estimates from Eurostat, the majority of government and charity environmental spending went towards waste management and wastewater treatment, accounting for 28% and 23% of expenditure respectively. A further 24% went towards environmental R&D, 13% towards biodiversity projects, and 11% to pollution reduction programmes.
Corporations mostly spent money on waste management (56%), wastewater treatment (27%), and air quality (7%).
Last year, the total EU investment in providing environmental protection services amounted to €59 billion – €5 billion more than the year before.
In regard to national expenditure on environmental protection, Belgium was in joint first place in spending on environmental protection along with Austria: both nations spent 3.2% of their GDP on environmental projects, well above the EU average of 2%.
In Belgium, this surge in spending was not driven by the government, but rather by corporations and consumers. The government and non-profit organisations spent just over 4% of their total investments on environmental protections, 1% less than the EU average.