The European Commission decided on Friday to look into legislation loopholes in order to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrial installations throughout the European Union (EU).
The aim of the new proposed legislation is to tackle the shortcomings of current legislation by merging seven overlapping directives covering similar activities into one.
The main thrust of the new legislation is to increase the use of "best available techniques", an obligation to ensure that industrial operators use the most cost-effective techniques to achieve a high level of environmental protection.
"Industrial emissions in the European Union remain too high and are having detrimental effects on human health and the environment. Clearer and stricter rules are needed to ensure that industrial installations comply with the necessary high environmental standards across the EU," said EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.
The new legislation tightens minimum emission limits in certain industrial sectors across the EU -- particularly for large combustion plants where progress to reduce pollution is insufficient.
The proposal also extends the scope of legislation to cover other polluting activities, such as medium-sized combustion plants, thus ensuring that all EU member states receive the same high level of environmental protection.
The new legislation is expected to provide significant benefits for the environment and human health, said the commission, the executive body of the EU.
The emission reductions foreseen at large combustion plants alone are likely to offer net benefits ranging between 7 billion euros (10 billion U.S. dollars) to 28 billion euros ( 40 billion U.S. dollars) per year and should reduce premature deaths and years of life lost by 13,000 and 125,000 respectively, it said.
The legislation will also reduce administrative costs for authorities and operators, it said.