BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s executive arm sought on Wednesday to toughen up pollution restrictions to ensure that harmful pollutants are eliminated by 2050 to potentially save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
The European Commission’s proposals center on air, waste and water pollution, and need the backing of the EU parliament and member states before they can be made mandatory. That is likely to take many months.
Air pollution is the biggest threat to the bloc’s 450 million citizens. The proposals include the doubling of limits to permissible fine air particles by 2030. Such particles are make up a significant part of air pollution overall, which the EU says is killing nearly 300,000 people a year.
Because effective enforcement of pollution rules has so far proven difficult, the proposals will empower ailing citizens to seek legal redress with better compensation rights and collective action to seek damages.
On just air pollution, the Commission estimates that as much as 121 billion euros could be saved by 2030 if the rules are adopted.
“The cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of prevention,” said Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius.
Russia’s war in Ukraine is affecting all EU plans and environmental protection is no exception given that Moscow’s energy squeeze on EU nations has already forced many nations to revive policies centered around fossil fuel use.
Delivering on anti-pollution measures “is not getting easier in the current geopolitical conditions but we cannot afford distractions,” said Sinkevicius.