Environmental decision-makers fall short of an ambitious Industrial Emissions Directive vote

Financing the transition

Today the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) of the European Parliament failed to push ambition for climate and the environment with its decision on the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED).

Despite the mild effort in the Commission’s proposal to take a step towards integrating decarbonisation and energy efficiency, the ENVI Committee has rejected this progress. Their position fails to require binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency standards for all industries in the current energy crisis scenario. Decarbonisation and climate protection are officially part of the Directive, but their swift implementation is delayed for decades.

The vote preserves the Commission’s suggestion to uphold the strictest achievable emission limits based on best available techniques. Nevertheless, a loophole enables a transition period of up to 10 years. If no permit update happens before, this maintains excessive pollution for another decade despite the availability of techniques to avoid it.

Transformation plans remain in the IED text, a step forward in a pathway for EU’s 2050 targets. However, the committee’s position to keep plans as indicative stifles ambition and opens the door for corporate-level plans, instead of the needed assessment at industrial site level, following the IED permitting approach.
The new compensation right adopted improves the prospects of people suffering from health damages caused by illegal pollution. People are paying with their health for the pollution from industrial operators who violate the law. The ENVI compromise is now the minimum to ensure that victims can ask for compensation before courts.

The vote on the Industrial Emissions Portal regulation offers modest advances towards effective access to information. Yet, they are far behind to what is necessary to allow for effective comparability of industry performance and permit ambition across the Union.

Christian Schaible, Head of Zero Pollution Industry at the EEB said:
“Decision-makers have missed the opportunity to require the largest polluters, namely operators of Large Combustion Plants and Refineries, to comply with strict emission performance levels by 2030. It is nonsense to make material efficiency standards optional. Why accept business-as-usual with a high cost to society for decades to come? We count on the European Parliament to put public interests back as first priority.”

Agnese Ruggiero, Lead on EU Industrial Decarbonisation at Carbon Market Watch said:
“The ENVI committee’s vote on the Industrial Emissions Directive is peppered with omissions on an industrial scale. Failure to mandate greenhouse emissions limits in industrial permits reflects a blatant refusal to improve the IED’s capacity to protect the climate and contradicts the objectives of the European Green Deal. Industrial greenhouse gases cannot be left unchecked in the middle of a climate crisis. We call on EU policymakers to set serious limits on industrial pollution and agree to a more ambitious revision of the IED.”

Boris Jankowiak, Steel Transformation Policy Coordinator at CAN Europe said:
All EU policies need to go in the same direction of drastically and urgently reducing greenhouse gas emissions, resource use and pollution: heavy polluting industry should not be an exception. Today, the EU Parliament’s Environment Committee voted to keep transformation plans in the Industrial Emissions Directive, a crucial step to help industry set out their pathway to clean production. However, it only partially delivered on this objective, especially as plans remain non-binding and most are allowed to be made at corporate level, instead of at industrial site level. Policymakers should now ensure that plans do not become an element of greenwashing and effectively drive industrial transformation forward.”

Bellinda Bartolucci, Senior Lawyer at ClientEarth said:
“It is great to see that the ENVI Committee has understood the importance of a functioning compensation right – one that means people genuinely have a chance to seek justice when they have been affected by illegal pollution. Its compromise is the minimum required to allow victims suffering from cancer, heart disease and other severe health damages to confidently ask for compensation when they are exposed to dangerous industrial emissions. This is also a breakthrough for EU policy – compensation rights, which already exist in other fields, are finally starting to appear also in environmental laws. They are vital for access to justice, and we are relieved that policymakers are starting to recognise that.”


Joint Press Release with Carbon Market Watch, Client Earth and European Environmental Bureau


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