We are on a mission to avert climate change – and that means cutting carbon. But did you know that the EU law that regulates industrial pollution does not address carbon and climate change? We need to change this.
Factories, power plants, intensive livestock rearing and refineries produce more than half of EU carbon emissions. We need strong laws on what comes out of factory chimneys and power plant smokestacks. Rules like these will be game-changers for our lungs and for the planet.
And the Industrial Emissions Directive is crucial for this!
We are calling on the European Commission to adopt strict rules on industrial pollution, which will live up to European Green Deal and give us an industrial pollution law that:
Puts a cap on carbon – and will continue to bring it down.
Includes new “zero pollution” rules for factories and power plants that force owners to protect our air, water and natural resources
The climate is at a crossroads and everything we do today counts. We need to act now and build a brighter future with clean water, clean air and healthy ecosystems. Right now, all of these goals are under serious threat.
The European Union has set itself on a path to beat climate change – this is its key pledge and its promise to us. It has committed to the European Green Deal policy which should lead to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and tackle climate change and other environmental challenges. These words are great, but if the EU is to achieve this goal by 2050, we need to see serious action now.
Large-scale industrial activities are one of the main contributors to air pollution which leads to 456,000 premature deaths in Europe every year.
We have to stop industry creating these kinds of threats. Mitigating climate change, protecting the environment and defending our health means making changes now.
The European Union has already committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, cleaning up the environment and eliminating pollution. However, this commitment does not mean much without rules to get us there. One crucial law that needs to change is the Industrial Emissions Directive. Achieving a clean environment and zero pollution industry is possible if we bring it up to date.
The European Commission has started the process of updating the Industrial Emissions Directive which is an opportunity to make it fit for the climate fight – this EU law must deliver for our environment, climate and health.
If you want to take it a step further, you can also fill in the European Commission’s questionnaire. There’s an easy way to do that: find out more here.
Engage with your national government so they speak up to improve this vital law – contact your Minister of Environment, Minister of Industry or other responsible authorities. Send them an email or tweet them and tell them that you demand change!
You can use this message or make it your own: “Dear Minister, to tackle climate change and other environmental challenges we need strong laws to regulate our industry. There is an opportunity to achieve this, because the Industrial Emissions Directive is under review by the European Commission. Please join us to demand that the new rules include a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and a new zero pollution goal.”
The Počerady lignite power plant emits 5.5 million tons of CO2 – as much as all the lorries in the Czech Republic. It produces electricity with an efficiency as low as 32%, which leads to fuel waste and unnecessary CO2 emissions. The Industrial Emissions Directive sets a minimum limit for energy efficiency of 33.5%, but this limit is not obligatory.
The energy sector, especially coal power plants, is among the biggest sources of CO2 emissions in the EU. To mitigate climate change, these emissions need to decrease rapidly. The current Industrial Emissions Directive is not strict enough to achieve this goal. It needs to change, to make energy efficiency and other CO2-related parameters binding.
The current inadequate monitoring of pollution under the Industrial Emissions Directive is widely observable in Slovenia. The national monitoring system produces unrealistic emissions reports, where extreme events are unreported or averaged, inspections of operations are known in advance allowing operators to prepare for them, and emission monitoring companies are dependent on investors. As a result, it is likely that data on pollution is inaccurate, undermining our health.
It seems that in Bulgaria the responsible authorities will do a lot to find exceptions from the Industrial Emissions Directive. This includes understating the environmental harm of the Maritsa East 2 power plant by bending the calculations of impact in several ways. In this case the public was at least able to see how the impact assessment was carried out, however badly.
By the spring of 2018, all large coal power plants in Bulgaria had filed their applications to derogate from the new associated emissions levels of the best available techniques for large combustion plants set out under the Industrial Emissions Directive. This time no local organisations were allowed to see the cost benefit analysis, not during the process and not even after the court ruled that the procedure was against the law.
At the moment a lot of state institutions are simply by-passing the IED to allow the industry to operate the facilities without meeting the pollution limits.
Under the current Industrial Emissions Directive, there are various ways to ignore the goal of protecting health and the environment, and simply continue with operations even though they breach the regulations. In Poland, the Pomorzany plant is still operating despite reaching 17,500 hours of operation, which was its lifetime limit according to its permit and the Industrial Emissions Directive. Environmental organizations have pointed this out, but the responsible national authorities have not done anything to shut down the power plant.
Moreover, in order to fulfil the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, all coal-fuelled power plants must be closed by 2030. The revised Industrial Emissions Directive must ensure this happens, and prevent carbon emissions and other pollutants from coal power plants in the next decade.
The fines imposed on coal plant operators for breaking the law are too low to deter them from operating illegally. For example, for coal plant operators, whose annual turnover typically ranges from €86 to €400 million, the fine for not having a permit is capped at a one-off payment of between €6,440 and €12,880. In addition, if the operator pays the fine within the first 15 days, the amount will be reduced to just €3,220.
National authorities are also unwilling to impose additional sanctions on plants that have already been fined. Two of Romania’s eight coal plants have been operating without a valid environmental permit since 2013, but have only been penalised once. Another plant did not have a permit from 2013 to 2019 and was also only penalised once. Penalties could be effective and would dissuade plants from operating illegally if authorities applied multiple fines.
The story of Ilva, a steel factory in the Taranto region, is a clear example of why the current industrial emissions legislation is insufficient. The area around the factory is heavily polluted, and the grazing of cows around the facility was forbidden due to alarming concentrations of hazardous substances detected in their bodies. The story of the factory workers is also concerning. Although the number of work-related injuries has dropped since 2005, work-related illnesses have risen, including cancer and musculoskeletal diseases. There are also above average rates of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, cancer, and mortality within the broader population of the region. All these problems have led the European Commission to launch an infringement process, but the people of Taranto are still living in a dangerous environment.
We need strong legislation, so living in industrial areas will not be a prescription for health problems.
When Germany decided to phase out coal, nobody expected it to allow the Datteln IV coal power plant to go online.
Neither during the power plant’s initial permitting procedures, nor after, did the authority examine the choice of technology.
The Industrial Emissions Directive aims to minimise pollution and the adverse effects caused by these industries on the environment, climate and human health, yet failed to consider available renewable resources as possible alternatives to limit these impacts.