The EU Action Plan “Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil” sets out an integrated vision for 2050: a world where pollution is reduced to levels that are no longer harmful to human health and natural ecosystems, as well as the steps to get there. The plan ties together all relevant EU policies to tackle and prevent pollution, with a special emphasis on how to use digital solutions to tackle pollution. Reviews of relevant EU legislation are foreseen to identify remaining gaps in EU legislation and where better implementation is necessary to meet these legal obligations.
Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said: “The Green Deal aims to build a healthy planet for all. To provide a toxic-free environment for people and planet, we have to act now. This plan will guide our work to get there. New green technologies already here can help reduce pollution and offer new business opportunities. Europe's efforts to build back a cleaner, fairer, and more sustainable economy must likewise contribute to achieving the zero pollution ambition.”
To steer the EU towards the 2050 goal of a healthy planet for healthy people, the Action Plan sets key 2030 targets to reduce pollution at source, in comparison to the current situation. Namely:
- improving air quality to reduce the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution by 55%;
- improving water quality by reducing waste, plastic litter at sea (by 50%) and microplastics released into the environment (by 30%);
- improving soil quality by reducing nutrient losses and chemical pesticides' use by 50%;
- reducing by 25% the EU ecosystems where air pollution threatens biodiversity;
- reducing the share of people chronically disturbed by transport noise by 30%, and
- significantly reducing waste generation and by 50% residual municipal waste.
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. 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. It reduces the ability of ecosystems to provide services such as carbon sequestration and air and water decontamination.