European Green Deal: Commission launches public consultation for cleaner air

Today, the European Commission is launching an open public consultation on the revision of the EU rules on ambient air quality a key deliverable of the European Green Deal. This revision aims to align the EU air quality standards more closely with the new recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) published yesterday and to strengthen provisions on air quality monitoring, modelling and plans to help local authorities achieve clean air. Each year, 400,000 people in the EU die prematurely as a result of air pollution. The health and economic costs of air pollution due to lost workdays, healthcare, crop yield loss, and damage to buildings cost an estimated 330 to 940 billion euro per year in the EU. The revision of the rules will contribute to improve air quality and as announced by the EU Action Plan: ‘Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil‘ aim to reduce the number of premature deaths by at least 55%. Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “We have set a zero-pollution ambition for a non-toxic environment and we want EU’s citizens to breathe clean air. In order to get there, we need to address specific pollutants of concern and as WHO’s just revised guidelines tells us, we need to be even stricter with those. I invite everyone to share their views on how we can improve our air quality legislative framework to deliver a high level of health and environmental protection.” The updated WHO Air Quality Guidelines – a key building block to underpin the Commission’s considerations on the desired ambition level – set pollution levels that are significantly lower than currently, especially for the air pollutants with the largest health impact in Europe. By striving to achieve these guideline levels, countries will be both protecting health as well as mitigating global climate change. A briefing by the European Environment Agency on Europe’s air quality status published this week showed that air pollution is still too high in most EU Member States. The public consultation launched today follows the publication of the inception impact assessment and an evaluation of the current legislation from 2019. The consultation is open for feedback for 12 weeks until 16 December 2021. More information is in the news release.