Press release: 5 April 2022

EU must leverage new industrial pollution law to slash "climate-sabotaging emissions" - ClientEarth

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth are urging the EU to put one of its most far-reaching pieces of industrial pollution law – the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) – to work for the climate in a new reform.

To date, the law has tried to put in safeguards around toxic emissions, but failed to directly address the climate impact of the installations it regulates – despite these industrial complexes being responsible for almost half of the bloc’s carbon emissions.

But the new revision, adopted today, fails once again to explicitly cap carbon and other GHGs for all installations, instead introducing vague ‘transformation plans’ that ask operators to chart a path to climate-neutral operations by 2050.

ClientEarth lawyer Bellinda Bartolucci said: “This one law applies to over 50,000 agro-industrial installations across Europe and it puts no direct cap on emissions of carbon and other GHGs from the most climate-intensive installations. This has been an eye-watering wasted opportunity for years. We now want to see the EU grab this chance with both hands and leverage the IED to slash climate-sabotaging emissions – it is vitally important to achieving the Green Deal commitments.”

Beyond the climate shortcomings, ClientEarth has welcomed several progressive aspects of the proposal, including long-awaited binding energy efficiency standards, a crackdown on derogations and more powerful access to justice provisions.

A major breakthrough in the new draft is a move to allow people affected by industrial pollution from the installations covered by the IED to seek compensation if their health is affected by unlawful operations.

Bartolucci said: “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.

“Industrial plants and power stations can emit neurotoxins like mercury and arsenic into the air, water and soil. Other industrial pollutants can trigger respiratory issues and are associated with forms of cancer. People need an avenue to obtain redress when they sustain harm and this new provision is a revelatory solution. We should be seeing more of this in the next generation of EU laws.”


Notes to editors:
About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.