EU aims at zero pollution in air, water, and soil by 2050
The European Commission has prepared an ambitious action plan aiming at zero pollution in the air, water, and soil by 2050. It is part of the Green Deal to make the European economy more sustainable.
The plan sets an integrated vision for 2050: the goal is to have a world where pollution harming human health and natural ecosystems, is reduced.
According to the executive vice-president for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, the Green Deal aims at a healthy planet for healthy people. “This means we have to act now. New green technologies can help reduce pollution and offer new business opportunities. Moreover, we have to build a cleaner, fairer, and more sustainable economy to meet our zero-emission ambition.”
Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius 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.
To steer the European Union toward the 2050 goal of a healthy planet for healthy people, the action plan provides several key targets for 2030 to reduce pollution.
First of all, the number of premature deaths due to air pollution has to be reduced by 55%. Water quality has to improve, and plastic and litter at sea (by 50%) and microplastics in water (by 30%) have to be reduced.
The soil quality needs to improve by reducing nutrient losses and chemical pesticide use by 50%. Noise is a polluting factor as well, and we should be able to reduce the share of people chronically disturbed by transport noise by 30%. Finally, we should reduce waste generation and residual municipal waste by 50%.
EU Green Week
The action plan also lists some flagship initiatives and actions, like aligning the air quality standards more closely to the latest recommendations of the World Health Organization, reviewing the EU waste laws, launching living labs for green digital solutions, and smart zero pollution, among others.
This year’s EU Green Week, the biggest annual event on environment policy, on 1 – 4 June, will allow citizens across the EU to discuss zero pollution from its many angles at the main Brussels conference, online, and in more than 600 partner events.
Pollution is the largest environmental cause of multiple mental and physical diseases and premature deaths, especially among children, people with certain medical conditions, and the elderly. A toxic-free environment is also crucial to protect our biodiversity and ecosystems, as pollution is one of the main reasons for the loss of biodiversity.