In September 2023, the European Parliament agreed to support the full alignment of the new EU air quality standards with those of the World Health Organization (WHO), but with a delay of five years (2035 instead of 2030). On 31 October, ELF and ERS published a joint statement to warn about the significant consequences such a delay could cause.
The statement draws attention to the negative impact that air pollution has for patients and vulnerable groups. Every year there are many new cases of asthma, COPD, lung cancer, hypertension, diabetes and other health conditions. Allowing a delay would mean human loss and health deterioration for many people, especially children, pregnant women, as well as chronic patients.
The joint statement also explains that a delay would negatively affect the EU economy since air pollution already costs €500 billion annually. Furthermore, it has been estimated that upon fully attaining WHO goals by 2030 the EU’s GDP would increase by 0.44%.
Moreover, a five-year delay would further reinforce energy poverty and, as a result, air pollution. This would have a particularly high impact on eastern and south-eastern Europe where energy poverty and air pollution levels are already higher compared to other European regions.
Ambitious EU Ambient Air Quality Directives (AAQD) could provide the opportunity to use cleaner and more efficient fuels to help eliminate energy poverty and drive a shift towards electric vehicles and better public transport.
Read the joint statement in full.
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