VILNIUS – The European Commission aims to reduce premature deaths associated with air pollution by halve by 2030, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius said on Wednesday.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Commission unveiled a zero-pollution plan that also calls for reducing waste, plastic litter at sea by half and microplastics released into the environment by 30 percent, and for improving soil quality by reducing nutrient losses and chemical pesticides' use by half.
Other targets include a 25 percent reduction in EU ecosystems where air pollution threatens biodiversity, a 30 percent reduction in the share of people chronically disturbed by transport noise, and a 50 percent reduction in residual municipal waste.
"The plan sets out 33 actions. The key principle of the action plan is pollution prevention, so we will transfer its provisions to other policy areas, such as agriculture, industry, buildings, energy or transport," Sinkevicius told BNS.
The plan provides for aligning the air quality standards to the World Health Organization's recommendations and reviewing the existing legislation. Member states will be encouraged to implement "national air pollution control programs and emission reduction commitments", according to the commissioner.
"For its part, the Commission will update the rules on tires, road vehicles, aircraft and railways. One of the ways to address both air and noise pollution problems is through the new Euro 7 standard for road vehicles, on which my team and that of [Internal Market] Commissioner Thierry Breton are working now," Sinkevicius said.
"We will also review the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive to reduce microplastic pollution," he added.
Among other things, a key role in reducing urban pollution is played by public transport which has to be not only convenient and easily accessible, but also environmentally friendly, according to Sinkevicius.
Member states will have access to money from the Recovery and Resilience Fund to deal with pollution issues. For its part, the Commission aims to implement the actions set out in the plan by 2024, the commissioner said.
Countries will face sanctions if they fail to comply with the new rules, he added.