Pollution harms our health and our environment. It 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.
In addition to affecting people’s health, 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 decontamination.
The public health, environmental, moral and socio-economic case for the EU to lead the global fight against pollution is today stronger than ever.
On 12 May 2021, the European Commission adopted the EU Action Plan: "Towards a Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil" (and annexes) - a key deliverable of the European Green Deal.
The zero pollution vision for 2050 is for air, water and soil pollution to be reduced to levels no longer considered harmful to health and natural ecosystems, that respect the boundaries with which our planet can cope, thereby creating a toxic-free environment.
This is translated into key 2030 targets to speed up reducing pollution at source. These targets include:
- 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.
The action plan aims to strengthen the EU green, digital and economic leadership, whilst creating a healthier, socially fairer Europe and planet. It provides a compass to mainstream pollution prevention in all relevant EU policies, to step up implementation of the relevant EU legislation and to identify possible gaps.
The European Green Deal announced headline actions on zero pollution.
- Chemical strategy for sustainability - to better protect citizens and the environment against hazardous chemicals.
- Zero pollution action plan for water, air and soil - to better prevent, remedy, monitor and report on pollution.
- Revising measures to address pollution from large industrial installations - to ensure they are consistent with climate, energy and circular economy policies.
Previous and upcoming zero pollution actions
- 4 June 2021Launch of the Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform
- 31 May - 4 June 2021EU Green Week 2021 on the theme of zero pollution
- 12 May 2021Commission adoption of zero pollution action plan
- 10 February 2021Stakeholder workshop on the zero pollution action plan
- 11 November 2020Launch of zero pollution action plan public consultation
- 14 October 2020Presentation of chemicals strategy
- 1 October 2020Presentation of zero pollution action plan roadmap
- 11 December 2019Presentation of the European Green Deal
- Air : EU action to improve air quality and reduce air pollution.
- Chemicals : EU action to ensure chemicals are safe, for health and the environment.
- Circular economy: The EU’s transition to a circular economy with a focus on green growth.
- Industrial emissions : EU action to make industry more sustainable and reduce industrial emissions.
- Marine and coastal environment : EU action to protect Europe’s coasts, seas and oceans.
- Nature and biodiversity: EU action on environmental conservation and protection.
- Noise : EU action to reduce environmental noise pollution.
- Plastics : EU action on plastic production and pollution to contribute to a circular economy.
- Soil and land : EU action for the sustainable use of soil and land.
- Water : EU action on water issues, to protect water resources.
- 4 June 2021: Launch of the Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform
- 12 May 2021: European Green Deal: Commission aims for zero pollution in air, water and soil press release and questions and answers
- 12 November 2020: Commission consults on Zero Pollution Action Plan
- 15 October 2020: EEA Signals 2020 - Towards zero pollution in Europe
- 1 October 2020: Publication of Zero Pollution Action Plan roadmap
- 22 September 2020: Evaluation of the Industrial Emissions Directive
- 17 September 2020: European Green Deal call under Horizon 2020
- 10 September 2020: 10th Report on the implementation of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive
- 8 September 2020: EEA Report: 'Healthy environment, healthy lives: how the environment influences health and well-being in Europe’
- 31 May - 4 June 2021: EU Green Week 2021 on the theme of zero pollution
- 10 February 2021: Stakeholder workshop – Zero Pollution Action Plan for air, water and soil
- Communication on EU Action Plan: ‘Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil’ and annexes
- Staff working document: Digital Solutions for Zero Pollution
- Staff working document: Towards a monitoring and outlook framework for the zero pollution ambition
- Factsheet on the Zero Pollution Action Plan: ‘2050: a healthy planet for all”
- Full synopsis report - results of the public consultation on the Zero Pollution Action Plan
- Factual summary report of the results of the public consultation
- Roadmap - zero pollution action plan
- Factsheet - eliminating pollution