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News announcement18 October 2022Directorate-General for Environment

EU pledging initiatives and their role in the zero pollution ambition

As part of a new study for the Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform, recommendations to the EU pledging initiatives suggest improving their link to zero pollution dimensions to ensure the better implementation of the Zero Pollution Action Plan.

The EU pledging initiatives capture citizens’ and businesses’ active contribution to environmental goals such as climate neutrality. The study looked at suitable options for enhancing the already existing EU pledging initiatives, especially those that concern businesses, to improve results and impacts with respect to zero pollution.

The pledging schemes analysed include those under the European Climate Pact, the Green/Sustainable Consumption Pledges of the New Consumer Agenda, and the Transition Pathway for Tourism. Integrated in these initiatives, one can find other related schemes such as the EU Ecolabel and EMAS.

Specifically, the study focused on:

  • recommending improvements with regards to the Zero Pollution Action Plan (ZPAP) objectives
  • identifying improvements for the overall monitoring, verification, and reporting (MRV) systems for zero pollution
  • clarifying how the EU Ecolabel and EMAS contribute to the zero pollution objectives.

The key findings show that while most initiatives explicitly refer to zero pollution dimensions, some only make an implicit reference. However, the three initiatives lack a common nomenclature, such as pre-defined types of pledge categories or pre-defined indicators. This leads to a lack of aggregated data to track their contribution to zero pollution.

To better align with the ZPAP objectives, the study recommends:

  • that the three initiatives strengthen their connection to zero pollution whenever appropriate, which can be achieved by adding more bespoken thematic encoding systems and sub-categories to the current pledging forms (e.g. improving air quality; improving water quality; reducing air pollution’s threat to EU ecosystems’ biodiversity, etc.)
  • to robustly associate all sub-categories to pre-defined quantified targets using relevant metrics that would allow the easy extraction of consistent and relevant statistics regarding the contribution of pledges to the ZPAP. This will modify the current overall MRV framework of the three initiatives to ensure unique, consistent, complete, accurate, reliable, timely, and credible data, fundamental for building an evidence-based narrative about achieved results and impacts.
  • to include noise pollution reduction, which is not yet mentioned in any of the examined initiatives.
  • to add an explicit reference to the contribution of the chosen pledge to the zero pollution ambition under the ZPAP.
  • to make more explicit where to find the zero pollution objectives linked to the three initiatives on the dedicated webpages on the Europa portal.

Lastly, all the analysed pledging schemes make explicit their link to the EU Ecolabel, while all but the Climate Pact also refer to EMAS. The study recommends showcasing how EMAS can contribute to the objectives of the ZPAP, thereby serving as an attractive tool for businesses to achieve their pledged targets.

As part of their support to the Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform for the European Commission, the study on enhancing EU pledging initiatives to improve results and impacts on zero pollution was carried out by Technopolis Group and COWI.


Publication date
18 October 2022
Directorate-General for Environment

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