The European Commission said Thursday that only 13 percent of more than 45,000 large industrial and agricultural firms across Europe have obtained mandatory operating permits aimed at limiting harmful emissions.
BRUSSELS, Belgium The European Commission said Thursday that only 13 percent of more than 45,000 large industrial and agricultural firms across Europe have obtained mandatory operating permits aimed at limiting harmful emissions.
The commission said in a review of a 1996 law designed to limit industrial air, land and water pollution that action was needed to ensure full compliance with the law by a 2007 deadline.
"Many installations do not yet comply with the conditions set out," EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said. "This may cause significant environmental damage. The member states clearly have to make stronger efforts to issue the necessary permits."
Under the pollution law, large industrial and agricultural installations must prove they are meeting emission standards. The commission is taking legal action against eight EU governments for failing to introduce the legislation.
Also on Thursday, the European Environmental Bureau, an independent environmental watchdog, criticized the European Union for failing to implement its own laws and warned it not to sacrifice environmental policies for the sake of economic growth.
The organization appealed to EU member states to support European Commission plans to cut emissions caused by air travel in Europe by 2008 and finalize an energy efficiency bill that would introduce mandatory energy savings targets for European businesses.
"The enforcement of existing EU laws is inadequate. Environment has no voice, it has not been integrated with other policies," Stefan Scheuer, the organization's EU policy director, told reporters.
The bureau urged Britain, which holds the EU rotating presidency, to tackle climate change at the international level and to put the EU back on track to meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol that requires industrial nations to reduce carbon dioxide.
Earlier this week, British Prime Minister Tony Blair launched a new round of international talks on climate change, encouraging G-8 nations and other major polluters such as China and India to use cleaner energy supplies.
He said that when the landmark Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, the international community would need a more sensitive framework for tackling global warming. Setting targets, he added, made countries worry about their economies.
Source: Associated Press