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Air pollution: Parliament adopts revised law to improve air quality

24 April 2024 18:51, Lyudmila Kalapchieva
Emission of: Tuida News 2 months ago, number of readings: 188
Европейският парламент

Stricter 2030 limits for several air pollutants

Air quality indices to be comparable across all member states

Access to justice and right to compensation for citizens

Air pollution leads to around 300,000 premature deaths per year in the EU

 

The revised law aims to reduce air pollution in the EU for a clean and healthy environment for citizens, and to achieve the EU’s zero air pollution vision by 2050.

 

Parliament on Wednesday adopted a provisional political agreement with EU countries on new measures to improve air quality in the EU so it is no longer harmful to human health, natural ecosystems and biodiversity, by 381 votes in favour, 225 against, and 17 abstentions.

 

The new rules set stricter 2030 limits and target values for pollutants with a severe impact on human health, including particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10), NO2 (nitrogen dioxide), and SO2 (sulphur dioxide). Member states may request that the 2030 deadline be postponed by up to ten years, if specific conditions are met.

 

If the new national rules are violated, those affected by air pollution will be able to take legal action, and citizens may receive compensation if their health has been damaged.

 

More air quality sampling points will also be set up in cities and currently-fragmented air quality indices across the EU will become comparable, clear and publicly available.

 

You can read more about the new rules in the press release after the deal with EU countries. A press conference with the rapporteur is planned for Wednesday 24 April at 14.00 CET.

 

Quote

 

After the vote, rapporteur Javi López (S&D, ES) said: “By updating air quality standards, some of which were established nearly two decades ago, pollution will be halved across the EU, paving the way for a healthier, more sustainable future. Thanks to Parliament, the updated rules improve air quality monitoring and protect vulnerable groups more effectively. Today is a significant victory in our continuous commitment to secure a safer, cleaner environment for all Europeans.”

 

Next steps

 

The law now also has to be adopted by Council, before being published in the EU Official Journal and entering into force 20 days later. EU countries will then have two years to apply the new rules.

 

Background

 

Air pollution continues to be the number one environmental cause of early death in the EU, with around 300,000 premature deaths per year (check here to see how clean the air is in European cities). In October 2022, the Commission proposed a revision of the EU air quality rules with more ambitious targets for 2030 to achieve the zero pollution objective by 2050 in line with the Zero Pollution Action Plan.

 

This legislation is responding to citizens' expectations concerning pollution and “greener” cities with lower emissions as well as raising awareness by providing regularly updated pollution information, as expressed in proposals 2(2), 4(6) and 6(1) of the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe.