With its updated and modernised rules on the Industrial Emissions Directive, the EU Commission wants to guide industrial investments necessary for Europe's transformation towards a zero-pollution, competitive, climate-neutral economy by 2050. This shall spur innovation, reward frontrunners and help level the playing field on the EU market.
The EU Commission’s update of the Directive, presented on 5 April 2022, is based on the current Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), which covers approximately 50,000 larger industrial installations and intensive livestock farms in Europe. These facilities and undertakings have to fulfil emission conditions by applying activity-specific “Best Available Techniques” (BAT), jointly determined by industry, experts and civil society. After all, these are responsible for around 50 % of sulphur oxides and other harmful substances, around 40 % of greenhouse gases as well as around 30 % of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. The revised Industrial Emissions Directive is part of a package, containing two new Regulations on the stricter control of fluorinated greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting substances as well as the Regulation for a new EU Industrial Emissions Portal.
The new regulations shall provide for tighter permit procedures, reduced administration costs, increased transparency, as well as the support of future technologies and other innovative approaches. The new sectors proposed for IED coverage include mining and ‘Giga-factories' for electro-mobility batteries as well as larger-scale cattle farming and additional pig and poultry farms. Determinations of new Best Available Techniques are estimated to start in 2024. First new techniques shall be implemented as from 2027. Industrial operators will have four years to comply with all requirements, farmers three and a half years.
The permitting process regarding the ‘Best Available Techniques' remains the basis for preventing and controlling environmental pollution, but the framework will be enhanced by measures to boost effectiveness. As regards permitting procedures, permitting authorities of Member States shall have to apply tighter pollutant emission limit values, as currently about 80 % of permits stick to the lowest legally allowed values. The EU framework for preventing and controlling industrial emissions shall also become more forward-looking and innovative, including through the establishment of an Innovation Centre for Industrial Transformation and Emissions. Furthermore, regarding the use of energy, water and material more importance shall be attached to resource efficiency and reuse. In respect of industrial processes, the use of safer and less toxic, or non-toxic chemicals shall be promoted. The proposed amendments shall also ensure that, where possible, depollution and decarbonisation techniques occur together to achieve the best health and environmental outcomes and harness technological and investment synergies.
Based on the new regulations, the EU Commission wants to increase transparency and public participation in the permitting process. Furthermore, a new EU Industrial Emissions Portal shall be created, granting citizens public access to emission data and use of resources as well as information on polluting activities in their immediate surroundings.
Environmental NGOs have already reacted on the package. The European Environmental Bureau regards the proposed Industrial Emissions Directive as a significant step forward, criticising, however, the still unresolved loopholes. From Carbon Market Watch’s point of view, the opportunity to make the Directive a strong tool to drive the clean industrial transformation has been missed. Greenhouse gas emissions should have been included in the scope of the Directive to reinforce the market-based approach of the EU emissions trading scheme. Greenpeace criticises above all the vested interests of a small number of agricultural enterprises, which burden society with billions of euro of health and environmental costs every year. According to Greenpeace, requiring these giants of industrial livestock farming to obtain a pollution permit is the bare minimum for the EU.