Tougher national caps on the emissions of common air pollutants may soon be headed to the European Union, following the approval of European Commission proposals by the Environment Committee (ENVI) of the European Parliament.
The new caps call for the emissions in question to be reduced by 70% by 2030 (saving an estimated €40 billion in air pollution costs).
The report — coming via Julie Girling (European Conservatives and Reformists, ECR, UK) on the National Emissions Ceiling directive (NEC) — was adopted by a fair margin — 38 votes “for” versus 28 “against” (2 abstentions). Next up is a plenary vote set for October in Strasbourg.
Following the vote, Girling spoke on the topic, making some interesting points:
This legislative process has been overshadowed throughout by the Commission’s threat to withdraw their proposal and their stated intention to hold a review after the European Parliament adopts its initial position. It is estimated that around 400,000 people a year die prematurely across the EU from air pollution. This is not acceptable, we are all directly impacted by this crucial health issue.
I believe my original proposal presented the right balance between ambitious targets and realistic goals. Unfortunately a coalition of socialists, liberals and greens have focused on increasing the already ambitious targets set by the Commission. Therefore I fear that we are now embarking on a long and protracted negotiation, rather than taking the quicker route of improved health for EU citizens.
Green Car Congress provides more:
The Environment committee wants the future NEC directive to include caps on mercury (Hg) from 2020, as well as binding, rather than indicative, new caps in all member states on emissions of the air pollutants sulfur dioxide (SO2); nitrogen oxides (NOx); non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC); methane (CH4); ammonia (NH3); and particulate matter (PM2.5) to be achieved by 2020 and 2030, that are proposed by the Commission. The committee stressed that more ambitious targets should be set in order to reach 2030 goals.
In addition, the committee argues for the creation of fully binding midpoint targets for 2025 and the elimination of offsets for international shipping, amongst other things.
As it stands, air pollution in Europe (according to the European Commission) results in total health-related external costs of between €330–940 billion a year.
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