PES environment ministers back action for zero pollution

08/06/2021

File photo: Chair of the PES ENVI ministerial Svenja Schulze today emphasised that if we cannot protect the planet, we will not be able to protect the health of people either

File photo: Chair of the PES ENVI ministerial Svenja Schulze today emphasised that if we cannot protect the planet, we will not be able to protect the health of people either

Socialists back the European Commission ambition of zero pollution for Europe’s air, water and soil, this was the conclusion of today’s videoconference meeting of PES environment ministers.

The Zero Pollution Action Plan published in May – a key plank of the European Green Deal led by European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans – outlines a zero pollution vision for 2050 where air, water and soil pollution is reduced to levels no longer considered harmful to health and natural ecosystems.

Meeting Chair, German Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Svenja Schulze, said:

“We are all well aware of the imminent threats to the health of our planet. If we cannot protect it, we will not be able to protect the health of people either. Environmental pollution, climate change and loss of biodiversity affect our citizens every day and pose great risks for our future.

“The science is clear. Environmental pollution leads to the development of various diseases, reduces quality of life, and causes long-term health problems. Environmental inequalities mean those who are most vulnerable are also often affected the most.

“People’s wellbeing matters. The environment matters. That is why we back action, guided by ambitious targets, for zero pollution. Creating a healthier and socially fairer Europe is the only way to ensure a truly sustainable future.”

The ministers also exchanged on the Fit for 55 package, due to be unveiled next month. The package is the next step to achieving a climate-neutral EU, setting out policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Socialists have constantly pushed for action to cut emissions, whilst also emphasising the need for a plan which is socially just.

The meeting – the last of PES environment ministers under the Portuguese Presidency of the Council – welcomed the significant achievements of the past six months, which include agreement on the historic European Climate Law. It also reflected on the G7 Climate and Environment Ministers meeting that took place virtually last month, welcoming the commitment of the G7 to take further steps to limit global warming.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Svenja Schulze, Chair, Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany
  • Inês dos Santos Costa, Secretary of State for the Environment, Portugal
  • Jytte Guteland, MEP, S&D coordinator, Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, European Parliament
  • Yonnec Polet, Deputy Secretary General, PES