EU aims for ‘zero pollution’ in air, water and soil by 2050
The European Commission has unveiled plans to reduce pollution to levels that are no longer harmful to human health and natural ecosystems by 2050.
The zero pollution action plan sets key targets for 2030 to reduce pollution at source, namely to improve air quality to reduce the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution by 55% and to improve the quality of water by reducing waste and plastic waste at sea and microplastics discharged into the environment by 50% by 30%.
In addition, it aims to improve soil quality by reducing nutrient losses and the use of chemical pesticides by 50%, reducing EU ecosystems where air pollution threatens biodiversity by 25%, reducing 30% the share of people chronically disturbed by transport noise and significantly. reduce waste production and municipal residual waste by 50%.
The plan also outlines a number of flagship initiatives and actions, including closer alignment of air quality standards with the latest World Health Organization recommendations, revising air quality standards water as well as the majority of EU waste laws in order to adapt them to cleanliness. and the principles of the circular economy.
It also aims to promote zero pollution from production and consumption and reduce the EU’s external pollution footprint by limiting exports of products and waste that have harmful and toxic effects in third countries.
The actions foreseen in the plan are expected to save the economy significant pollution costs, such as healthcare, lost working days or damage to buildings and crop losses.
The Commission estimates that the costs of inaction ‘greatly exceed’ the costs of action – for example, the costs of air pollution, in terms of health and economic activities, estimated at 330 billion euros (3.284 billion euros). ) to 940 billion euros (809 billion pounds sterling) per year in the EU, while all the measures taken so far to improve air quality in the EU have a combined cost estimated between 70 billion euros (60 billion pounds sterling) and 80 billion euros (69 billion pounds sterling) per year.
Pollution is the leading environmental cause of multiple mental and physical illnesses and premature death, especially among children, people with certain medical conditions, and the elderly.
People who live in more disadvantaged areas often live near contaminated sites or in areas with very high traffic.
The Commission believes that a toxic-free environment is also essential to protect the EU’s biodiversity and ecosystems, as pollution is one of the main reasons for biodiversity loss and reduces the ability of ecosystems to provide such services. as carbon sequestration and air and water decontamination.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: “Environmental pollution negatively affects our health, especially the most vulnerable and socially deprived groups, and is also one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss. The case for the EU to lead the global fight against pollution is stronger than ever.
“With the zero pollution action plan, we will create a healthy living environment for Europeans, contribute to a resilient recovery and stimulate the transition to a clean, circular and climate neutral economy.”