Environmental NGO ClientEarth and campaign group Friends of the Earth France have written to the French government demanding â€œurgent action to clean up toxic air pollution in the countryâ€
Environmental NGO ClientEarth and campaign group Friends of the Earth France have written to the French government demanding â€œurgent action to clean up toxic air pollution in the countryâ€.
According to the latest government figures, France is in breach of EU air pollution limits in 20 separate zones, with both nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter PM10 above legal limits.
ClientEarth announced yesterday (August 3) that it had turned its attention to tackling air pollution in France, following the NGOâ€™s success in its court case against the UK government at the Supreme Court in London earlier this year.
The Supreme Court ruled in that case that the UK government must produce a new air quality plan before the end of 2015 aimed at meeting EU limits for nitrogen dioxide (see AirQualityNews.com story).
It followed a landmark ruling from the European Court of Justice that Member States can be ordered by their national courts to comply with EU law (see AirQualityNews.com story).
The UK is currently in breach of EU legal limits for nitrogen dioxide in 16 of its 43 zones, including areas of London, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire.
And now ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth are also pursuing the French government over similar failures to meet EU legal objectives for air pollution.
They claim that almost 2.5 milllion people â€œare likely to be exposed to dangerous levels of pollution until at least 2020â€ in 15 zones across France.
But, according to ClientEarth, â€œalmost noneâ€ of the existing French air quality plans have set deadlines for compliance with EU legal objectives.
The NGO said: â€œA recent report [July 2015] from the Commission of Inquiry at the French Senate on the economic cost of air pollution seemed to have galvanised SÃ©golÃ¨ne Royal, the environment minister, who promised â€˜extremely firm action. To date, no policies to tackle this urgent issue have been announced.â€
An episode of high particulate matter pollution across Europe earlier this year reportedly affected visibility of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (see AirQualityNews.com story).
Louis Cofflard, clean air lawyer acting for ClientEarth and FoE France, said: â€œFrance absolutely must meet its obligations with regard to air quality and itâ€™s now up to the government to make sure that, across the country, people are given the right to breathe clean air.â€
In the UK, meanwhile, ClientEarth is also seeking a new clean air lawyer to join its litigation team in London, with funding for the position initially for two years.
The role will involve implementation and enforcement of existing EU air pollution legislation and work on the development of new EU air pollution directives currently under discussion in Brussels. The work will also build on ClientEarthâ€™s existing air pollution work including its ongoing case against Defra.
According to ClientEarth, the formation of its litigation team is a â€œrelatively new initiativeâ€ and it says the team will build on its existing climate, energy and clean air work by â€œdeveloping and implementing strategies for using litigation and other legal interventions to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy and cleaner airâ€.
More information on the role is available on the ClientEarth website.