A paper drafted in response to the EUâ€™s consultation on its air quality policy and backed by 60 European NGOs and campaign groups has called for stricter legislation at European level
Sixty organisations across Europe have called for stricter air quality limits and legislation in a paper addressed to the European Union on Monday (March 4).
The position paper calls for the strengthening of air quality limits to similar levels recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), as the current limits are â€œinadequate to protect our healthâ€. It also calls for infringement action on these limits taken out by the EU against member states to be more quickly enforced.
Other demands set out in the paper, â€˜NGO priorities for the review of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollutionâ€™, include stricter sector-specific legislation to reduce emissions at source and more ambitious European emission reduction commitments for 2020, 2025 and 2030.
Headed by the European Environment Bureau (EEB), various NGOs and campaign groups from across Europe put their names to the paper, which was sent in response to the European Commissionâ€™s consultation on its air pollution laws and policy.
Groups from the UK supporting the EEB paper include Friends of the Earth, Environmental Protection UK and Clean Air in London.
The paper outlines desired action on the EUâ€™s Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution (TSAP), which is made up of three areas of legislation: the Ambient Air Quality Directives, which limit values for particulate matter, nitrogen oxide and other pollutants; the National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive, which places limits on emissions impacting the ozone; and regulations regarding sources of emissions, such as products, vehicles and industrial installations.
A comprehensive review of the TSAP is being carried out by the EU as part of its 2013 â€˜Year of Airâ€™, with a final report due sometime in September 2013.
The consultation on the review of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution (TSAP) began on December 10 and ended on Monday (March 4), the results of which will help inform a report on EU air quality policy due in September 2013 (see airqualitynews.com story).
The paper also sets out its opposition to the introduction of any â€˜flexibilityâ€™ in the application of EU air quality limit values, as it states that this could make these limits â€œunenforceable and therefore meaninglessâ€.
The paper also states: â€œEU-wide binding limit values set to protect peopleâ€™s health and the environment have proven to be a very effective tool to improve air quality and trigger local action. In fact, these limits have been the main driver for action in many places in the EU. But the current EU air quality standards are inadequate to protect our health.â€
With regards to tackling emissions at source, the paper states that new standards are necessary for existing products, vehicles or construction machines, but that they should be â€œcomplemented by retrofit incentives, economic instruments, market surveillance and in-use compliance regimes.â€
The paper concludes that it is â€œhigh timeâ€ for the Commission to â€œcome forward with a legislative package with ambitious revisions, binding commitments and a comprehensive set of measures for all major sources concerned. This would benefit the EUâ€™s citizens, its environment and national budgets.â€
A summary of the TSAP 2005 can be viewed on the EU website, or by clicking here.
The paper issued as part of the TSAP consultation is available on the EEB website.