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Green Deal: Overview

Highlights the key points of the Green Deal

Eliminating Pollution Overview

The European Commission, within the context of the European Green Deal, has set itself objectives to eliminate air, soil and water pollution. To achieve this, the Commission will adopt the Zero pollution action plan which aims to secure a healthy ecosystem and living environment for Europeans. The action plan will implement policies to:

The Commission recognizes that pollution depends on a multiplicity of factors, as well as having various effects on our well being. With this in mind, it is important to mention that other Commission strategies, such as Smart mobility, the Renovation Wave and Beating Cancer Action Plan, take into consideration the adverse effects of pollution on these strategies and vice versa. Furthermore, areas such as agriculture and fisheries, economy and finance, research and innovation, climate action and energy will be impacted the most by policies aimed at the reduction of pollution, as well as playing a key role in their successful implementation.

Zero Pollution Action Plan - Key Elements

The new Zero Pollution Action Plan aims to address the interlinked challenges that cause air pollution which lead to harmful effects on Europe's population and ecosystem. Additionally, the Action Plan will also support the EU's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by encouraging a greener restart of the economy and create new job opportunities. According to the Zero Pollution roadmap, the Action Plan aims to:

  • Strengthen implementation and enforcement for more effective EU pollution rules
  • Enhance existing health and environmental legal frameworks of the EU as well as considering new additions to regulations such as soil pollution
  • Improve the governance of pollution policies by utilising existing and new forms of data collection on pollution domestically, in addition to addressing international issues regarding the EU's zero pollution ambition
  • Encourage societal change, aimed at more sustainable consumption behaviours with the assistance of digital solutions

Zero Pollution Action Plan - Policy Areas

Clean Air

Human activity has been the main contributor to poor air quality ever since the industrial revolution. The rise of industrial and energy production, the burning of fossil fuels and the significant rise of traffic on our roads are some of the many ways in which we have deteriorated our air quality. This deterioration has contributed to the premature death of more than 390,000 Europeans every year and the damage of ecosystems through excessive nitrogen pollution and acid rain.

To tackle these issues, the EU has implemented various measures, policies and regulations which aim to reduce air pollutants and improve air quality. Below, the main actions of the EU are outlined:

Chemicals

Chemicals are used in various sectors of our economy and society, such as health, energy, mobility and housing, and although for the most part they improve our well-being, most have hazardous properties with potentially harmful effects on our lives and environment. To address this, the EU has implemented various sophisticated chemical laws to eliminate the dangers of these hazardous products, however, these risks are expected to increase, with international chemical production anticipated to double by 2030, with an increase of their use in consumer products. In response to the expected growth, the EU has published its chemicals strategy (COM/2020/667 final), part of its zero pollution objectives, which aims to protect citizens and the environment, and facilitate innovation for safer and more sustainable chemicals.

The chemicals strategy's main actions will include:

  • Banning the most harmful chemicals
  • Account for the cocktail effect of chemicals when assessing risks from chemicals
  • Phase out per - and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the EU, unless their use is essential
  • Boost the investment and innovative capacity
  • Promote EU’s resilience of supply and sustainability of critical chemicals
  • Establish a simpler “one substance one assessment” process for the risk and hazard assessment of chemicals
  • Play a leading role globally by championing and promoting high standards and not exporting chemicals banned in the EU

© European Commission, 2020

Circular Economy

The European Commission's new Circular Economy Action Plan (COM/2020/98 final) will introduce measures that will foster sustainable consumption and ensure that resources used in the economy are kept in use for as long as possible through measures that aim to effect the entire life cycle of a product. The new Action Plan aims to:

  • Make sustainable products the norm in the EU
  • Empower consumers and public buyers
  • Focus on sectors that use the most resources and where the potential for circularity is high such as: electronics, batteries, vehicles, construction, food etc.
  • Ensure less waste
  • Make circularity work for people, regions and cities
  • Lead the global efforts on circular economy

Furthermore, the Commission will also implement a green growth and circular economy policy package to complement the action plan. Specifically, the policy package seeks to manage the different stages of the life cycle of natural resources, such as extraction, design, manufacture and waste, which are essential to develop a resource-efficient circular economy. The green growth and circular economy package includes actions on:

                                                                      © European Commission, 2020

The Commission's ambitions for a circular economy are not limited to the sustainability of everyday products we use, which are only part of eliminating wasteful practices. Another area which the Commission aims to make a big impact is through the assessment and reporting on the sustainability performance of buildings. It will do this through Level(s), an assessment and reporting framework that provides a common language for sustainability performance of buildings. It promotes lifecycle thinking for buildings and provides a robust approach to measuring and supporting improvement from design to end of life, for both residential buildings and offices. Level(s) uses core sustainability indicators, tested with and by the building sector, to measure carbon, materials, water, health and comfort, climate change impacts.

© European Commission, 2020

Relevant Documents to Circular Economy