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EurEau reaction to the EU's 'Green Deal'

Climate policy tops the list of ‘wants’ in Ursula von der Leyen’s #GreenDeal plan launched today, with the goal of Europe becoming climate neutral by 2050.

A ‘Climate Law’ will be published by March next year according to the plan. As well as this, there are a number of targets and acts of interest to our sector: 

  • Zero carbon emissions by 2050 (-50-55% by 2030) (more on this below)
  • Biodiversity Strategy for 2030
  • new Industrial Strategy
  • new Circular Economy Action Plan
  • Farm to Fork Strategy for sustainable food
  • Proposals for a pollution-free Europe. 

We welcome the EU’s renewed enthusiasm for an effective solution to a changing climate and fully support the pathway towards carbon neutrality.  Climate change remains a serious challenge for the water sector, between droughts and floods. We have to minimise its impact and enact adaptation measures while keeping costs down and complying with legislation. The water sector is well aware of the need to bring its own carbon footprint down to zero. Numerous projects are underway to increase the energy efficiency of operations and generate renewable energy whenever possible. Today many of these initiatives lack public support and are even hindered by the lack of an enabling regulatory framework.

And there is another element that might treat a serious blow to the sector’s carbon reduction ambitions. The sector fears that the Commission’s 'Zero Pollution' ambition will focus on addition end-of-pipe treatment by drinking water and waste water operators, while no effective control at source measure are taken. This would very significantly increase energy and resource use in the water sector and jeopardise carbon reduction plans.

Water is mentioned in the plan, although most of the focus is on oceans.

The plan aims to "restore the natural functions of ground and surface water". Implementing existing legislation through, for example, the Control at Source Principle, will prevent potentially harmful contaminants from entering our environment, and will achieve the aim of "reducing pollution from excess nutrients". We look forward to the proposed measures "to address pollution from urban runoff and from new or particularly harmful sources of pollution such as microplastics and chemicals, including pharmaceuticals." End of pipe solutions miss this goal.

You can also read our blog post here

And our briefing note on reducing the energy footprint of the water sector.

The full plan from the Commission is here

 

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