Europe has made considerable progress over recent decades in cleaning the air that we breathe. However, air pollution remains a serious problem and continues to damage our health and the environment. The number of people dying due to poor air quality is ten times higher than for road traffic accidents. Air pollution also causes a lot of lost working days which has effects on productivity, healthcare costs; it damages ecosystems, crops and also buildings. The direct costs of air pollution to society are estimated to amount to about 23 billion € per year.
That is why, following a review of existing EU air policy, the European Commission adopted the Clean Air Policy Package in December 2013. This package consists of:
- A new Clean Air Programme for Europe with new air quality objectives for the period up to 2030,
- a revised National Emission Ceilings Directive with stricter national emission ceilings for the six main pollutants, and
- a proposal for a new Directive to reduce pollution from medium sized combustion installations, such as energy plants for street blocks or large buildings, and small industry installations.
It is estimated that with the clean air package we will avoid number of premature deaths, save part of the ecosystems from nitrogen pollution and acidification. It will result on higher crop yields and less damage to the buildings.
It will bring the positive net impact on economic growth due to lower healthcare costs and fewer workdays lost which will result on additional jobs and direct benefits due to higher productivity.