The European Commission has launched an open public consultation on an EU Action Plan “Towards a Zero Pollution Ambition for air, water and soil – building a Healthier Planet for Healthier People”. As a key pillar of the European Green Deal, the Zero Pollution Ambition goes hand in hand with all Green Deal objectives and will build on initiatives in the field of energy, industry, mobility, agriculture, biodiversity, and in particular climate. The consultation follows the recent publication of the roadmap that outlines EU plans to achieve zero pollution by better preventing, remedying, monitoring and reporting on pollution and help mainstream the ambition in all policies and investment tools. The Zero Pollution Action Plan will be the next important step of implementing the Zero Pollution Ambition after the Commission publication of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability on 14 October.
Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said:
With the Zero Pollution Action Plan we want to create a healthy living environment for Europeans, a more sustainable economy, and green business opportunities that will help Europe recover from the COVID-19 economic crisis. Environmental pollution not only negatively affects our health, especially of the most vulnerable population, but it is also one of the five main drivers of biodiversity loss. So clearly we need to act.
Environmental pollution not only negatively affects our health, especially of citizens from the most vulnerable groups, but it is also one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss. So clearly, there is urgency to act. With the Zero Pollution Action Plan we want to create a healthy living environment for Europeans, contribute to a resilient recovery and boost transition to a clean, circular and climate neutral economy.
The roadmap for the Zero Pollution Action Plan mapped the following key areas to be explored:
- Strengthening implementation and enforcement and how public authorities, businesses and citizens can use EU rules on pollution more effectively
- Improving legislation related to health and environment
- Monitoring and governance of pollution prevention and reduction policies – how it can be strengthened both at EU and international level
- Societal change – exploring means, including digital solutions, to drive the shift to more sustainable solutions in our society
The consultation on the Zero Pollution Action Plan is open for feedback for 13 weeks until 12 February. Feedback will be taken into account for further development and fine-tuning of the initiative.
Pollution is the largest environmental cause of multiple mental and physical diseases, and of premature deaths, especially among children, people with certain medical conditions and the elderly. People who live in more deprived areas often live close to contaminated sites, or in areas where there is a very high flow of traffic.
In addition to affecting people’s health, pollution is also one of the main reasons for the loss of biodiversity. It reduces the ability of ecosystems to provide services such as carbon sequestration and decontamination.
According to a recent EEA report on Health and Environment, in the EU, every year over 400 000 premature deaths (including from cancers) are attributed to ambient air pollution, and 48 000 cases of ischaemic heart disease as well as 6.5 million cases of chronic sleep disturbance to noise, next to other diseases attributable to both.
- Publication date
- 12 November 2020
- Directorate-General for Environment