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.

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

A social conscience

With a Taskforce on Inequality and Social-related Financial Disclosures in the pipeline, Beth Knight talks to Chris Seekings about increased recognition of social sustainability

6th June 2024

Read more

Disinformation about the impossibility of averting the climate crisis is part of an alarming turn in denialist tactics, writes David Burrows

6th June 2024

Read more

David Symons, FIEMA, director of sustainability at WSP, and IEMA’s Lesley Wilson, tell Chris Seekings why a growing number of organisations are turning to nature-based solutions to meet their climate goals

6th June 2024

Read more

A system-level review is needed to deliver a large-scale programme of retrofit for existing buildings. Failure to do so will risk missing net-zero targets, argues Amanda Williams

31st May 2024

Read more

Chris Seekings reports from a webinar helping sustainability professionals to use standards effectively

31st May 2024

Read more

Although many organisations focus on scope 1 and 2 emissions, it is vital to factor in scope 3 emissions and use their footprint to drive business change

31st May 2024

Read more

IEMA submits response to the Future Homes Standard consultation

31st May 2024

Read more

What is the role for nature in the Climate Change Act? Sophie Mairesse reports

20th May 2024

Read more

Media enquires

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

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close