European People’s Party fails people and climate in its proposals for the Industrial Emissions Directive

Environmental and climate NGOs are expressing concern and frustration today in reaction to a report on the revision of EU industrial pollution laws. Instead of demonstrating that the times of ‘polluting as usual’ are over, the proposals submitted by Radan Kanev of the European People’s Party (EPP) completely ignore the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED)’s aim to prevent and reduce pollution.

The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and the Regulation on Industrial Emissions Portal (IEP-R) are key policy tools to tackle industrial pollution at its source and aim to achieve a high level of protection for human health and the environment, as well as improve transparency on tracking progress on pollution impacts.

In spite of its significance at a time of escalating climate chaos, the report misses a precious opportunity to ensure the IED sets limits to carbon emissions, and it even backtracks on basic binding energy efficiency requirements – de facto shielding industry from taking responsible action towards the climate. 

“The report clearly shows more interest in supporting shiny new technologies while blatantly ignoring the IED’s aim to prevent and reduce pollution,” says Agnese Ruggiero, Lead on EU carbon market and industrial decarbonisation at Carbon Market Watch. “It also misses a crucial opportunity to make the IED effectively contribute to climate protection and lets polluting sectors like steel, cement and chemicals off the hook once again. We urge all MEPs to step in and ensure these industries receive a clear and predictable policy signal: the times of ‘polluting as usual’ are over.”

The Commission proposed to set the strictest possible emission limits achievable by applying Best Available Techniques (BAT) in order to better control industrial pollution. However, the report gives in to industry polluters and undermines the initial text by weakening its scope, extending exceptions based on investment cycles and corporate plans, and slowing down BAT uptake at least to the next decade, at the detriment of more ambitious country permitting practice.

The report’s proposition on intensive livestock activities would still include cattle farms, but severely raises the threshold on the number of animals beyond which installations are subject to the IED, thus limiting the amount of ammonia, methane and nitrogen emissions the law can tackle. Furthermore, it supports the weakening of current requirements on the most intensive pig and poultry factories, including the possibility to derogate entirely from the permitting system.

Although the report aims to clarify the new compensation right for people suffering from human health issues caused by unlawful operations, it neglects to improve the Commission’s proposal on other enforcement and implementation rules as it weakens sanctioning tools for authorities when operators do not comply with the IED.

The revised proposal for the IEP-R aims at displaying and sharing industrial performance information. The Commission’s proposal was lacklustre in facilitating users of the data to compare environmental performance of industry and permit stringency. The report suggests minor changes, nearly all about claimed confidential business information whilst ignoring the aims of the reporting.

What our partners say

“We need an acceleration of the industry transformation towards a clean, circular, toxic-free and climate-neutral reality, so it is not acceptable to annihilate the work on BAT uptake and wait for future reviews only from the next decade. The MEPs of the European People’s Party should reconsider decisions made serving the interests of industry polluters – and not of people as their party name indicates,” says Christian Schaible, head of zero pollution industry at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

“Despite the IED’s key role in achieving the EU’s climate and circular economy goals, the report fails to provide a much awaited comprehensive and enforceable transformation pathway for heavy-industry and adopts industry’s techno-optimism  as the first solution to the climate crisis. We also see a worrying attempt to limit the amount of environmental information that industry will have to share with the public. We call on MEPs to turn this missed opportunity around in the revised text and finally address heavy polluting sectors’ energy, water and raw materials consumption as well as greenhouse gas emissions,” says Boris Jankowiak, policy officer at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe.

“The factory farming industry clearly has a stranglehold on the conservatives in the EU Parliament. The Commission’s industrial emissions rules would only address the 8% largest industrial farms, but the EPP won’t even accept that. The reputation of small and family farms is dragged through the mud by this tiny minority of mega-polluters – they must be regulated like the factories they are,” says Marco Contiero, EU policy director on agriculture at Greenpeace.

“Thousands of people live in the impact radius of industrial installations all over Europe, and to date have been powerless to push back or claim reparations for the harm they suffer if these installations break the law. It is great to see that the report is still formulating an effective compensation right for people affected by illegal pollution – this is desperately needed. However, it weakens the instruments authorities have to hand to reprimand companies ignoring IED rules – fines have become lower and suspending operations has become more difficult. And still, the report fails to grant guaranteed access to court for any individual being affected by any IED breach,” says Bellinda Bartolucci, senior lawyer at ClientEarth.

“The EU needs better IT tools when it comes to industrial reporting, enabling citizens to compare performance and permit conditions in a few clicks. We are not there yet and will never get there if we give in to the fake confidential business information obsession of some industry. The report has missed the opportunity to make the best use of data for benchmarking and compliance promotion,” says Joze Roth, senior policy officer for zero pollution at EEB.

Press release written by Maria Luís Fernandes, EEB, and originally published on the EEB website.

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