“Zero pollution” and “toxic-free environment” pledges overcame industry opposition to become last minute additions to the European Green Deal, announced this afternoon.
Ursula von der Leyen promised a zero pollution goal in her successful pitch to become European Commission president. The European Parliament and Council have long backed a non-toxic environment strategy to tackle what the European Environment Agency and civil society describe as a serious and growing chemical pollution problem.
Industry chief Marco Mensink wanted a “European chemicals industry industrial policy” and railed against the non-toxic environment title, reportedly saying:
“We don’t need new legislation, we don’t need a non-toxic environment. Sorry, environment ministers, we don’t like the word and we don’t need it.”
Both non-toxic environment and zero pollution were written out of one draft of the green deal in a section focused on chemical policy. In their place were a host of industry asks and buzzwords.
The so-called ‘innovation principle’ has been labelled a new ‘backdoor bypass to EU safety rules’ by Corporate Europe Observatory.
Civil society organisations call on European Commission to take out some specific industry lobby demands from #EuropeanGreenDeal. They do not fit with sustainability objectives. #innovationprinciple #NewGMOhttps://t.co/Jtfdx98VoT pic.twitter.com/1VszpmkLdp
— Nina Holland (@nina_holland) December 10, 2019
Several updated versions of the text surfaced just hours before the European Commission finally announced its European Green Deal, suggesting a last minute internal tussle.
Eventually there were two references to zero pollution and three for a toxic-free environment.
Campaigners celebrated. Tatiana Santos of the European Environmental Bureau said:
“We welcome today’s zero pollution and toxic-free environment pledges that promise to strengthen the law and develop safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals.
“The EU should now turn words into action to phase-out toxic chemicals without delay and ensure protection of the environment and the health of current and future generations.”
Photo by Markus Spiske