Stricter limits on air pollutants could save thousands of lives, say leading S&Ds

Stricter limits on air pollutants could save thousands of lives, say leading S&Ds, 400,000 premature deaths, National Emissions of Certain Atmospheric Pollutants Directive (NECD), Seb Dance,  improve air quality, sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NO

Air pollution is estimated to cause more than 400,000 premature deaths in the European Union every year, and an important part of those emissions comes from the agricultural sector. This is why today Socialists and Democrats in the environment committee supported the inclusion of agricultural emissions in the revision of the National Emissions of Certain Atmospheric Pollutants Directive (NECD).

The S&D Group backs the Commission’s proposal to introduce stricter national emission limits up to 2030 for the six main pollutants*. However, it would like the proposal to set binding intermediate targets for 2025  in order to ensure that member states stay on track for their long term targets, as well as more monitoring on member states and a bigger role for local and regional authorities.

S&D spokesperson on this issue, MEP Seb Dance, said:

"Today's vote was an important first step to ensure appropriate action is taken by all sectors in the economy to improve air quality. It cannot be left to just a few industries to do all the work. We need to take all the necessary measures to ensure that the most dangerous pollutants for human health, causing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and affecting brain development, will be limited up to 2030 and beyond.

"I am delighted that MEPs in the environment committee backed my amendments, giving more power to local and regional authorities to ensure that they have the tools to effectively reduce pollution in their cities. Local authorities are often best placed to deliver the change needed on the ground, but are all too often ignored. With more and more reports showing the health impacts of poor urban air quality to be even worse than we thought, governments must consult local authorities when drawing up their plans to meet the new targets."

S&D spokesperson on health and climate, Matthias Groote MEP, said:

"Around 90% of Europeans living in cities are exposed to levels of air pollution deemed damaging to human health. Out of those, there are some people who are more vulnerable, such as pregnant women, children, the elderly, as well as those from low income groups.

"It is a shame that the EPP voted against this report, which means that the health of so many European citizens is not their priority.”

The S&D Group calls for binding targets for 2025 to ensure a linear reduction of emissions between 2020 and 2030 and avoid implementing expensive measures towards the end of the commitment period."

* The Commission’s proposal replaces the existing NEC Directive, setting new ceilings on emissions for sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) ammonia (NH3), and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC), PM 2.5 for 2020 and 2030 and methane (CH4) for 2030.