Air pollution: New figures reveal extent of problem, but ten governments failing to plan

Poor air quality is putting our health at stake, reveals the European Environment Agency in a new report released today – but campaigners warn national action is still too little and too slow. Czechia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxemburg, Malta, Romania and Slovakia are failing to deliver crucial air pollution control plans.

Data collected all across Europe show that most Europeans are still exposed to a level of air pollution far beyond the limits recommended by the World Health Organisation. Hazardous emissions are not decreasing fast enough, and in sectors such as agriculture they have actually been rising since 2013, with heavy impacts on urban air quality too.

Margherita Tolotto, Air and Noise Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau, said:

“Air pollution harms us all, but is particularly damaging for the most vulnerable: children, pregnant women and the elderly. There’s no secret about how to cut pollution: we need clean power and less wasted energy, greener and smarter transport, and sustainable production and consumption of food.”

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe’s largest network of environmental citizens’ groups with 150 member organisations in more than 30 countries.

Poor air quality was responsible for around 400,000 premature deaths in the EU in 2016, according to the report.

The EU tackles air pollution with legislation such as the National Emission Ceiling Directive (NEC), that sets binding emission reduction targets. The directive required national governments to detail their plans to reduce air pollution by April 1st. However, over six months past the deadline, ten of them are still missing.

Tolotto said:

“Where are the national programmes to cut air pollution? EU legislation is there to protect us from harmful pollutants, yet one out of three governments are ignoring their legal obligations and failing to deliver clean air. People all over Europe deserve better than this.”

Member states will discuss the development and implementation of European, national and local air policies at the second EU Clean Air Forum [4], hosted by the European Commission and the Government of Slovakia in Bratislava, on 28–29 November 2019. Air pollution from agriculture will be among the focus of the forum, alongside energy and clean air funding mechanisms.

ENDS