Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Make polluters pay

Dear Sir

Lawmakers in Europe have signed off on an update to the Urban Wastewater Treatment (UWWT) directive, which is to further tighten restrictions on pollution. More nutrients from agricultural waste and sewage will have to be removed from waterways under the new rules. It also, for the first time applies standards to micro-pollutants such as chemicals from pharmaceutical waste.

The update also introduces a crucial measure called “extended producer responsibility,” which means cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies will be asked to contribute to the cost of treating wastewater if they are causing chemical pollution. The EU has specifically said, it wishes to implement a “polluter pays” principle. This means that costs for cleaning chemicals out of waterways will be partially covered by the responsible industry, rather than by water bills or public budgets. The new rule will require the most polluting industries to pay at least 80 percent of the cost for micro-pollutant removal.

While we can debate endlessly about decolonisation and neo-colonisation, the fact remains that we are all in the same boat as far as climate change is concerned; and in this respect, the Caribbean can and should take this page from the EU to help keep our water, air and land as pollution free as possible.

The Caribbean Voice appeals to CARICOM to work with all members to bring the appropriate legislation to table as quickly as possible so every nation can table the requisite legislation and then start the process of getting polluters to pay for cleanup even while holding them to the strictest possible pollution free standards as enshrined in current laws.

A start now will make this process much easier as the Caribbean is nowhere as far gone as Europe in terms of pollution yet, no one can doubt that there are and have been culprits who have gotten away, and are getting away scot-free, thereby leaving a burden that will compound in time for Caribbean people.

Annan Boodram



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