European Parliament vote to revise the Ambient Air Quality Directive

On 13 September, the European Parliament Plenary voted in favour of the revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directive (AAQD). This news was warmly welcomed by ELF and ERS. Many health groups and organisations across Europe, including ELF and ERS, have been campaigning hard for the revision since it was originally proposed in October 2022. This is an important first step in ensuring that European clean air policy follows the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.

The AAQD sets concentration limits for certain pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) that are considered highly dangerous and harmful to both human health and the environment.

The new revision of the directive holds one very specific goal in mind: achieving zero air pollution by 2050.

Deputy Director of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) Anne Stauffer says this decision is a “crucial step toward greater protection from the top environmental threat to people’s health”.

But it is important to remember there is still work to do to get this Directive through the parliament and improve health across Europe.

It is estimated that the European population lose an average of almost a year of life due to air pollution, with the World Health Organization (WHO) hailing it as the fourth leading cause of illness and death in the world.

Dimitris Kontopidis, ELF Chair, says, “the environment and the air we breathe can affect the health of our lungs. That is why part of ELF’s mission is to promote environmental policies”.

By aligning European standards with WHO guidelines, the new AAQD aims to provide people with a better quality of life and reduce risks of potentially serious health conditions caused or worsened by poor air quality such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and even lung cancer.

Professor Zorana Jovanovic Andersen, Chair of the European Respiratory Society’s Environment and Health Committee says that the vote will “improve lung health, prevent new disease, and lower the economic cost of treating respiratory disease”.

You can read Zorana’s full statement here.

If you are interested in finding out more about the AAQD, and what you can do to support it, please read our advocacy pack.