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EU launches zero pollution action plan

Xinhua |

BRUSSELS - The European Commission on Wednesday unveiled an action plan to reduce pollution to levels that are no longer harmful to human health and natural ecosystems by 2050, when the EU aims to become climate neutral.

The plan ties together all relevant EU policies to tackle and prevent pollution, with a special emphasis on how to use digital solutions to tackle pollution.

Air pollution is considered the biggest environmental risk to human health in the EU. Every year it causes 400,000 premature deaths, 48,000 cases of heart disease and 6.5 million cases of chronic sleep disturbance to noise, according to the latest European Environment Agency report.

In its zero pollution action plan, Brussels set out several targets it plans to reach by 2030, as steps towards the 2050 vision, which include reducing the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution by 55 percent, improving water quality through the reduction of microplastics by 30 percent and improving soil quality by reducing nutrient losses and the use of chemical pesticides by 50 percent.

EU commissioner in charge of the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said in a statement that Europe's efforts to build back a cleaner, fairer and more sustainable economy must likewise contribute to achieving the zero-pollution ambition.

"New green technologies already here can help reduce pollution and offer new business opportunities," he said.

"With the Zero Pollution Action Plan, we will create a healthy living environment for Europeans, contribute to a resilient recovery and boost transition to a clean, circular and climate neutral economy," said European Commissioner for Environment Virginijus Sinkevicius.