New EU Industry Laws Fail Green Test: Polluting Sectors Keep Business-as-Usual
The rocky roads to EU’s carbon neutrality and climate protection grow in distance. In today’s vote for the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and the Construction Products Regulation (CPR), Members of the European Parliament missed yet another opportunity to revolutionise industries, voting instead in favour of polluters’ interests.
Total inaction to curb livestock pollution
Today’s vote on the IED was key to achieve pollution prevention at source and a high level of environmental and human health protection. In particular, it had the opportunity to bring rules to the livestock farming, which continues to enjoy under-regulation and a pass for excessive pollution.
Despite comprising of only 13% of all farms in the EU, industrial livestock farms account for 60% of ammonia and 43% of methane emissions. The new rules were expected to generate €5.5 billion of environmental and health benefits for the EU every year.
In a complete lack of consideration for environmental and public health protection, the EU Parliament did not include cattle in the law alongside pigs and poultry, forcing a regulatory backtracking and contributing to an uneven playing field for industry. With this misstep, the European Parliament falls behind the Member States in ambition and puts polluters interests before people and planet.
Célia Nyssens, Senior Policy Officer for Agriculture and Food Systems at the EEB said:
“It is highly disappointing to see that a majority of European lawmakers chose to defend the vested interests of the livestock industry over the health of the people they’re supposed to represent. This result is a win for populist politics and a loss for everyone else.”
People and climate still at the hands of pollution
The law also misses the chance to stand up for citizens’ rights and cut pollution, choosing instead to give a continued free pass for Europe’s biggest polluters.
Citizens should have the right to request compensation due to health damage caused by illegal pollution but under current EU rules this possibility is extremely limited. The compensation right adopted today turns this provision into an empty shell which denies people suffering from law-breaking pollution a bare minimum protection for their fundamental rights.
The Parliament has also rejected further steps towards integrating decarbonisation and energy efficiency as well as supported a 2035 permit delay amendment written by and for the industry. Member States will not be allowed to set greenhouse gas emission limits for all industries without affecting the EU market-based emissions trading system. Furthermore, the text adopted also prevent a more consistent application of EU laws on air and water quality standards.
Two small silver linings came from the vote. Firstly, the Parliament supported improvements to the Industrial Emissions Portal, notably by integrating key information reported under the IED to be directly incorporated to the centralised European Environmental Agency Portal, allowing user-friendly data extraction. Secondly, it also lists all PFAS as a group, subjecting it to monitoring and permit limits, and reinforced Commission proposal for permit summaries and mandatory reporting on consumption.
Christian Schaible, Head of Zero Pollution Industry at the EEB said:
“Today’s vote was a disgrace due to dogmatic and ill-informed actions regarding the real implications of the livestock scope and a generalised polluters-complacent stance. Once again, decision–makers missed the opportunity to protect people and the environment but also levelling the playing field for frontrunner industries. Why should we settle for business-as-usual, burdening society with significant costs for years to come? The upcoming trilogues must reinstate public interest as the priority and walk the Zero Pollution Ambition talk.”
Not building towards carbon neutrality
Another of Europe’s heavy polluters also got away as Members voted for a weak revised Construction Products Regulation, a file best placed to set Europe about a new generation of construction products that are more sustainable, energy-efficient, and innovative.
Construction products, from sourcing to the end of life, are a heavy burden on EU’s carbon neutral targets as well as on the planet. In Europe, construction is responsible for 50% of all extracted materials, 35% of all waste, and 36% of EU’s carbon emissions.
Despite the many proposals tabled to address these gaping holes in the former law, Members voted for manufacturers to continue to operate without transparent and robust environmental information requirements, and no priorities were put on creating minimum environmental requirements for the most polluting products (e.g. concrete and steel). The sector is far from being coherent with EU blanket ecodesign law, but the vote today has missed the opportunity to put ecodesign as the safety net in the event of an ineffective CPR.
Despite its significant potential to clear many of the EU climate hurdles, the technical nature of the file and the non-compromising and business-biased attitude from the file’s rapporteur has meant its impact were largely overlooked by policymakers. As a result, the construction sector will continue to weigh down Europe’s desperate need for decarbonisation, particularly in its journey to reduce the built environment massive material and carbon footprints.
Laetitia Aumont, Policy Officer for Circular and Carbon Neutral Built Environment at the EEB said:
“The text voted to day is a roadblock for progress, favouring business-as-usual. Construction products, a significant climate burden in Europe, had a chance for transformation but the opportunity was missed. This collective failure leaves the weight of construction’s climate impacts unchanged, casting a shadow on our hopes for a sustainable future.”
Following this, both the IED and CPR will now enter the trilogue negotiation, where national governments and EU Commissions are urged to push for better ambitions.
Notes to editors