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Air Quality

Delays in New EU Air Pollution Limits Put Lives at Risk

New emissions limits expected last year have been postponed again. That puts EU citizens’ health and lives at risk, T&E tells the European Commission.

A proposal for new Euro 7/VII vehicle pollution emission standards for cars, vans, and heavy-duty vehicles has been delayed by the European Commission again. The draft law was first expected to be published in 2021, but this week the Commission signalled July as the new date.

In a letter to the EU Commission, T&E says that — given the preparatory work is complete — there is no justification for such a delay beyond the pressure from the car industry. Delaying the publication of new emissions standards for vehicles unacceptably hinders EU efforts to clean up toxic air pollution caused by road transport and unnecessarily puts EU citizens’ health and lives at risk.

According to the 2021 report by the European Environment Agency (EEA), in excess of 360,000 premature deaths per year are attributable to air pollution in the European Union which is largely produced by internal combustion engines in road transport. Yet an ambitious and swiftly implemented Euro 7/VII standard will not only slash pollution from almost 100 million cars (ahead of the phase out of the internal combustion engine in this segment in 2035) but also secure the EU industry’s place as a global leader in automotive engineering.

The technology to slash emissions from road transport already exists, is affordable — the Commission’s own estimates put the price at a maximum of €500 per car — and contrary to doomsday claims by carmakers, recent polling shows that EU car buyers are prepared to pay more for less polluting cars.

A large majority of people support stronger EU air pollution rules for carmakers to make vehicles as clean as possible, a YouGov survey shows. More than three-quarters (76%) of those polled said, when asked, that manufacturers should be legally obliged to reduce emissions from new cars as much as technically feasible. Across Germany, France, Italy and Spain, almost two-thirds (65%) of people surveyed who would buy a new car are willing to pay up to €500 extra — the maximum cost to manufacturers of significantly reducing car pollution.

T&E calls on the Commission to publish the Euro 7 proposal as soon as possible and under no circumstances later than the previously announced date of the 5th of April 2022. To find out more, download the letter.

Originally published on Transport & Environment.

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