Europe proposes a tough crackdown on industrial and livestock pollution

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European Union flags flutter in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

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BRUSSELS, April 5 (Reuters) – Europe’s factories and mines would face tougher pollution limits to get permits to operate under rules proposed by the European Commission on Tuesday, which would also limit planet-warming emissions from livestock farms.

Industrial pollution, which damages nature and human health, causes billions of euros in damage in Europe every year, according to European Union estimates.

Brussels on Tuesday proposed an update to EU rules covering pollution from 30,000 industrial sites, including power plants, waste incinerators, landfills and cement factories, and 20,000 livestock farms.

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The rules oblige countries to only grant permits to plants that meet waste disposal standards and emission limits for polluting gases such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

Governments tend to enforce the weakest limits, and 80% of industrial facility permits use the least ambitious pollution ceilings allowed by the regulations. The new proposal requires authorities to enforce “the strictest possible emission limits”.

Also, cattle farming will be included in the regulation for the first time, while more pig and poultry farms would be included – meaning 43% of EU livestock emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas methane would be captured.

It would also add some 850 industrial mineral extraction sites to Europe – including nickel and lithium – as well as large battery factories, which the EU hopes to build dozens of, to meet demand for electric vehicles.

Environmental advocacy firm ClientEarth criticized the proposal for failing to put a firm cap on overall emissions from industry, as is being done under the EU carbon market, the bloc’s main tool for reducing carbon emissions from power plants and industry.

The rules need to be negotiated by EU countries and the European Parliament and would likely not apply to new sectors until 2027.

Operators whose installations violate the regulations could face fines and the suspension of their permits. Governments will also be obliged to ensure that citizens can claim compensation for damages they suffer as a result of violations.

A separate EU proposal would accelerate the phase-out of fluorinated greenhouse gases found in refrigerators, air conditioners and aerosols, the longest-lasting type of planet-warming emissions.

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Reporting by Kate Abnett; Edited by Barbara Lewis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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