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News Policy

Pursuing Europe-wide action on light pollution

Nighttime view of Western Europe and the coasts (from left) of Spain, France and Italy taken from the International Space Station as it orbited 256 miles above the Mediterranean Sea. Image courtesy of NASA.

Europe is the most light-polluted continent, but a bold initiative from the Czech Republic seeks to reverse that.

To support a proposal for EU-wide action on light pollution from the Czech Republic, IDA has developed a European policy brief and recommended actions document.

Over the past year, we have worked with staff from the Czech Republic Ministry for the Environment on an ambitious plan to mitigate light pollution across the European Union (EU). The European Union is a key actor in enhancing environmental protection across its 27 member states. This document draws the attention of the European Union to the existing and rapidly growing problem of light pollution. The continued growth in light pollution across the European Union threatens European priorities related to environmental protection, cultural heritage protection, and energy efficiency. 

Light pollution must be recognized as an urgent threat if the EU is to achieve the ambitious goals established in the Climate Targets Plan, the Biodiversity Strategy, and the Zero Pollution Action Plan. This policy initiative provides an overview of opportunities to address light pollution at the European level using the existing framework of directives, legislation, and funding initiatives. It recommends the European Union undertake actions in three areas:

  1. Recognize Artificial Light at night (ALAN) as an environmental pollutant (“light pollution”) that impacts biodiversity, human health, climate change, and cultural heritage.
  2. Utilize existing European law and legislation to mitigate light pollution.
  3. Promote the development of best practices to mitigate light pollution. 

This document summarizes the impacts of light pollution, reviews the existing regulatory framework, outlines existing EU efforts, and recommends proposed actions. It also includes a short appendix on the EU’s role in international efforts toward environmental protection and sustainability.

A task force of IDA board members and advisors prepared the document. It supports the 2022 International workshop Light Pollution, organized by the Czech Republic Presidency, on October 26, 2022. During this workshop, participants from 19 member states, the European Commission, the International Dark-Sky Association, and the European Environmental Agency adopted the Brno appeal to reduce light pollution in Europe

The appeal will be presented at the EU Environmental Council meeting on December 20, 2022.

The approach outlined in the Brno appeal offers a roadmap for any country interested in using existing environmental laws and regulations to mitigate light pollution.

You can download the European policy brief and recommended actions here.

Other useful links:

Participants at the 2022 International workshop light pollution 2022.

About the Authors

Benedikt Huggins (Germany) is a Research Associate at the IVR of the University of Heidelberg.

Martin Morgan-Taylor (UK) is an Associate Professor at DeMontford University, Leicester, and a past IDA board member.

Sibylle Schroer (Germany) is a current IDA board member and Scientific coordinator of the working group “Light Pollution and Ecophysiology” at the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB).

Yana Yakushina (Belgium) is a lawyer and Ph.D. Researcher at Ghent University.

Kevin Gaston (UK) is an IDA board member and Professor of Biodiversity & Conservation at the University of Exeter.

Alejandro Sanchez (Spain) is an IDA board member and researcher at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

Ruskin Hartley (USA) is the executive director of IDA.

Tom Reinert (USA) is an IDA board member and retired lawyer.