A new Commission report shows that the number of premature deaths due to air pollution in 2030 could be reduced by more than 50%, if Member States applied EU policies on air pollutant emissions, climate and energy.
The European Commission adopted its first Clean Air Outlook. This report looks at the prospects for Europe’s air from now to 2030, and how it is affected by implementation of the new National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive, which sets stricter limits on the five main air pollutants.
EU Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Karmenu Vella, said: "While ensuring clean air for our citizens requires urgent action from Member States now, action to reduce air pollution will also pay off in the long run. This report shows that, at the EU-level, we have the right policies working in the right direction, and that multiple benefits are possible. We are clearly on the right path. Now we have to make sure that these policies are fully implemented. For only one euro per citizen per year, thousands of premature deaths due to poor air quality could be prevented by 2030. This is really encouraging news for all Europeans concerned about air pollution, and for Member States authorities developing measures to deliver clean air to their citizens."
The analysis looks at the joint effect of new EU measures put in place since 2014 to reduce air pollutants emissions from different sources (e.g. medium combustion plants, non-road mobile machinery or fuel-burning appliances) and at measures introduced as part of Energy Union. It shows that the commitments to reduce air pollutants emissions established for 2030 under the new NEC Directive could be achieved in a cost-effective way and with higher health benefits than initially thought, thanks to the effects of measures that tackle multiple pollutants at the same time.
As a result, the population exposed to PM2,5 concentrations above the WHO guideline should drop from 88% in 2005 to around 13% in 2030, and in most of those locations the exceedances would be small enough to be addressed by local measures.
This is however not the case for impacts on ecosystems, which are primarily caused by agricultural activities: none of the measures put in place since 2014 to reduce pollution at source tackles ammonia emissions from agriculture, and measures taken for other pollutants do not bring significant co-benefits in this case.
Air pollution is a major health and environmental problem in the EU, and the recent European Commission Communication “A Europe that protects: Clean Air for all” reminded Member States of the need for urgent action.
The Commission is stepping up cooperation with Member States to help them comply with EU clean air policy and legislation. Financial support for air pollution control measures is being provided, and Clean Air Dialogues with Member States are ongoing to share solutions towards better implementation of the air legislation. But more efforts are still needed from Member States.
7 June 2018