Leverage new anti-pollution law to slash emissions, ClientEarth tells EU

The Industrial Emissions Directive is one of the most powerful weapons with which the European Union can fight the climate crisis, but risks being underutilised.

Environmental law specialist ClientEarth is urging the EU to take full advantage of legal powers that can help cut back on toxic emissions following the adoption of a new revision which still fails to put a specific cap on carbon and other greenhouse gas levels.

factories with smoke under cloudy sky

The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) is designed to make it far easier to limit the amount of air pollutants companies can emit, and take steps to penalise those that fail to comply. However, critics argue the rules do not directly tackle the impact of the installations they regulate, despite these accounting for around half of all emissions from the bloc. 

Changes rolled out this week have again neglected to take this step, with policymakers instead introducing a need for firms to create ‘transformative plans’ that can steer them towards carbon neutrality by 2050. ClientEarth believes this is too vague, and does little to enforce the requirement. 

‘This one law applies to over 50,000 agro-industrial installations across Europe and it puts no direct cap on emissions of carbon and other GHGs from the most climate-intensive installations,’ said Bellinda Bartolucci, a lawyer at ClientEarth. ‘This has been an eye-watering wasted opportunity for years. We now want to see the EU grab this chance with both hands and leverage the IED to slash climate-sabotaging emissions – it is vitally important to achieving the Green Deal commitments.’

A number of aspects in the new proposals have been welcomed, though, including binding energy efficiency standards, improved access to justice, and a crackdown on derogations. In particular, the latest draft makes it easier for people to seek compensation when their health is affected by pollution from unlawful operations at sources covered by the IED. 

Air Quality News recently published a feature looking at the growth of climate litigation, and the climate crisis’ impact on contract law. 

Image credit: Patrick Hendry



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