Air pollution still a 'problem' in EU

15th October 2012


Airq

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Prevention & Control ,
  • Reporting ,
  • Mitigation ,
  • EU

Author

IEMA

European environment commissioner Janez Potočnik has admitted that the EU is "some way" from meeting its air quality goals, after the European Environment Agency (EEA) revealed that up to 30% of those living in EU cities are exposed to pollution levels that exceed the current legal limits

In its latest report on air quality, the EEA confirms that concentrations of harmful pollutants, including particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone, are above EU designated safe limits in many of the bloc’s cities.

Pollution limits set out in the Ambient Air Quality Directive (2008/50/EC) are being “widely exceeded”, states the report, with 16%–30% of the EU’s urban population breathing air containing too much PM10.

The report also reveals that 22 of the bloc’s 27 member states exceeded NO2 limits in 2010, leaving 11% of Europe’s sensitive ecosystems at risk of acidification and 69% at risk of eutrophication.

Potočnik believes member states have to shoulder much of the blame. “They have insisted on flexibility in applying air quality legislation. This has, unfortunately, not led to better implementation. Too often, the response has been too late,” he said.

“Some still argue that in times of severe economic hardship, air pollution measures are too costly. I would argue that air pollution itself imposes much greater costs on the economy. If you consider all costs, including natural capital accounting, clean air is an investment that makes a lot of economic sense.”

The European Commission is undertaking a wholesale review of its air quality policies in a bid to replicate the success it has had in cutting sulphur dioxide emissions – which halved during 2001–2010. The results of the review are to be published next autumn and Potočnik has pledged to work with member states on how to meet pollution limits.

At the same time, Defra has confirmed that it plans to lobby for amendments to the Directive, in particular the NO2 limits, which the UK has failed to meet in 40 areas and which the environment department argues are too costly.


Transform articles

From crisis to community

The Better Business Act would put responsibility to society and the environment on the same footing as responsibility to shareholders, explains Chris Turner

30th July 2021

Read more

In Elliott-Smith v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the claimant applied for judicial review of the legality of the defendants’ joint decision to create the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) as a substitute for UK participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

30th July 2021

Read more

Thames Water has been fined £4m after untreated sewage escaped from sewers below London into a park and a river.

30th July 2021

Read more

In R. (on the application of Hudson) v Windsor and Maidenhead RBC, the appellant appealed against a decision to uphold the local authority’s grant of planning permission for the construction of a holiday village at the Legoland Windsor Resort.

28th May 2021

Read more

Are voluntary commitments enough to make the private sector act on waste? David Burrows explores the issues

28th May 2021

Read more

EIA screening should be comprehensive, says Paul Stookes.

6th December 2010

Read more

Civil sanctions make the punishment fit the crime, says Richard Kimblin.

6th September 2010

Read more

The UK's largest water company has been fined twice in seven days for polluting waterways in Berkshire and East Hampshire with sewage.

20th December 2011

Read more

Lawyers acting for the environment department have confirmed for the first time that the UK is breach of its legal obligations to lower air pollution levels

16th December 2011

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert