Europe Must Tackle Air Pollution “Public Health Crisis”

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Friends of the Earth has welcomed air pollution targets for Europe, including the UK, which were revealed today. However, the environment-focused charity notes that national governments, including Britain’s, have “watered down” proposals and must now work together in order to save lives.

The National Emissions Ceiling Directive, which puts limits on the emissions of harmful pollutants, is an essential piece of the jigsaw in tackling the UK’s dangerous air pollution which claims the lives of 40,000 people early every year.

The European Parliament and Commission originally called for a 52% cut in mortality from air pollution by 2030 but this was watered down by member states to a 49.6% reduction. This change could result in approximately 9,400 additional early deaths across Europe.

Friends of the Earth is calling on the UK to do more to cut air pollution and bring the air we breathe in line with EU limits and those recommended by the World Health Organisation. The charity is also urging the Government to maintain and uphold EU protections on air pollution regardless of the outcome of Brexit.

Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, said: Today’s targets on tightening air pollution are welcome but should, and could, have been stronger. Nearly 10,000 more people will die early across Europe because of this weak-willed watering down of proposals.

“This is a public health crisis. The UK Government, local authorities and our city mayors must do far more to make the air we breathe safer.

“Air pollution doesn’t respect national borders. We need firm commitments from government that whatever the outcome of Brexit we will continue to work with our European neighbours to deal with this deadly issue.”