The European Union (EU) will tighten regulations on air pollution, waste and use of chemicals to protect public health and address key causes of biodiversity loss. The plan to tackle pollution, sets out targets for 2030, on the way towards reducing air, water and soil pollution to levels no longer considered harmful to health and nature by 2050.
"One of the big lessons we have learned from the COVID crisis is the close connection between human health and the health of the planet. At the moment, neither is doing well. Vulnerable groups including low-income communities bear the brunt of pollution's negative impacts”, EU Environment Commissioner Virginius Sinkevicius said.
Air pollution costs inhabitants of European cities more than 160 billion Euros (US$ 190 billion) each year
Dirty air is a key culprit and is linked to the EU's climate change goals, since factories and cars that churn out pollutants also emit planet-warming gases such as CO2. Europe's air quality has improved in recent years but is still deadly, with 400,000 premature deaths, 48,000 cases of heart disease as well as 6.5 million cases of chronic sleep disturbance to noise in the EU in 2018.
The European Commission said that by 2030 it aims to reduce premature deaths associated with air pollution by at least 55%. It would revise EU air pollution limits next year to better align them with upcoming World Health Organisation recommendations. Tighter "Euro 7" rules, due to be proposed this year, will also limit vehicle pollution.
Other targets for 2030 include a 25% reduction in ecosystems where air pollution threatens biodiversity and a 50% reduction in marine plastic litter.
To meet those goals, the European Commission will propose measures to phase out endocrine disruptors - chemicals that interfere with hormones - consider capping ammonia emissions from livestock farming and factories, and revise pesticides regulations to reduce the use of chemicals.
EU rules coming into force from 2023 will set more stringent quality standards for drinking water. By 2025 the EU will review waste laws to improve recycling and reduce waste generation.
(Source: Vietnam Environment Administration Magazine, English Edition II - 2021)