Commission adopted EU Green Deal’s zero pollution action plan

It will create a healthy living environment and boost transition to a clean, circular and climate neutral economy

Photo: EU Frans Timmermans, on the left, and Virginijus Sinkevičius.

Reducing pollution to levels that are no longer harmful to health and nature is the main target of the EU Action Plan “Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil”, adopted by the Commission on Wednesday. It is a key component of the EU Green Deal and sets out an integrated vision for 2050.

The document puts special focus on how to use digital solutions to tackle pollution and foresees to identify remaining gaps in EU legislation.

Saying that to provide a toxic-free environment for people and planet, we have to act now, EC Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans commented that the Green Deal aims to build a healthy planet for all and “this plan will guide our work to get there”.

According to him, new green technologies can help reduce pollution and offer new business opportunities. “Europe's efforts to build back a cleaner, fairer, and more sustainable economy must likewise contribute to achieving the zero pollution ambition,” he opined.

As Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius stated, the case for the EU to lead the global fight against pollution is today stronger than ever. With the Zero Pollution Action Plan, we will create a healthy living environment for Europeans, contribute to a resilient recovery and boost transition to a clean, circular and climate neutral economy, he added.

The Action Plan sets key 2030 targets to reduce pollution at source, in comparison to the current situation. It aims at improving air quality to reduce the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution by 55%, improving water quality by reducing waste, plastic litter at sea by 50% and microplastics released into the environment by 30%. For improving soil quality, nutrient losses and chemical pesticides' use will be reduced by 50%.

Decreasing by 25% the EU ecosystems where air pollution threatens biodiversity, significantly reducing waste generation and by 50% residual municipal waste and reducing the share of people chronically disturbed by transport noise by 30% are also items on the agenda.

Among the proposed actions is aligning the air quality standards more closely to the latest recommendations of the World Health Organisation, reviewing the standards for the quality of water, including in EU rivers and seas, reviewing the majority of EU waste laws to adapt them to the clean and circular economy principles.

The plan suggests special initiatives for fostering zero pollution from production and consumption, a Scoreboard of EU regions' green performance to promote zero pollution across regions and for reducing health inequalities. Living Labs will be launched for green digital solutions and  smart  zero pollution. 

 

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