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Air pollution in Paris : Eiffel tower through a haze of pollution in ParisMembers of the European Parliament (MEPs) meeting in plenary session have approved on 23rd of November new EU-wide air pollution rules, after it was adopted in July in the EP committees. The updated National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive sets air pollution limits that are expected to halve the health impact of air pollution by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

According to environmental experts and associations, this is no sufficient: even after full implementation of the directive in 2030, around 250,000 Europeans are still likely to die prematurely because of air pollution every year.

(image credit: AFP)

This is due to:

  • The set targets are not ambitious enough
  • Member States agreed to provide themselves “get-out-of-jail” cards with “flexibilities” that will allow them in case of dry summer or cold winter not to respect the limits. They will also be able to escape responsibility in case emissions from one sector turn out to be greater than expected, as already happened with dieselgate (source: EEB).
  • No caps for methane. The European Parliament and Commission wanted to limit methane as it contributes to ground level ozone which is harmful to human health, the Member States opposed and obtained to exclude methane from this Directive.

It is important to note that in the case of NEC, the European Commission and Parliament demonstrated much higher ambitious and took a stronger stance on air quality than Member States, that succeeded in watering down the original proposals. They have delayed improved health conditions for EU citizens, allowing air pollution to remain too high to effectively decrease respiratory diseases.

We count on national authorities to go beyond the Directive targets and means of action to improve the lives of millions suffering from respiratory diseases and COPD in particular, and to prevent more cases of ill-health.

More information.

November 24th, 2016 | Published in Clean air,