EU failing to tackle air pollution, say auditors

11 Sep 18

Inadequate action to curb air pollution in the European Union is incurring hundreds of billions of euros in health-related costs, auditors have warned.

In a report released today the European Court of Auditors said the bloc’s actions to protect human health from air pollution had not been effective.

They examined the EU’s 2008 Ambient Air Quality Directive and other EU policies supported by funding to see whether clean air had been prioritised.

They found that some air quality standards – which were set almost 20 years ago – were much weaker than World Health Organisation guidelines.

Most member states do not comply with the bloc’s standards or take enough action to improve air quality, the report said. It noted that EU funding for air quality was not always sufficiently targeted in projects by member states.

Janusz Wojciechowski, a member of the ECA, said: “Air pollution is the biggest environmental risk to health in the European Union.

“In recent decades, EU policies have contributed to emission reductions, but air quality has not improved at the same rate and there are still considerable impacts on public health.”

Every year, air pollution causes about 400,000 premature deaths in the EU and hundreds of billions of euros in health-related external costs, the ECA report said.

The auditors warned that nitrogen dioxide and ground level ozone are responsible for most of the early deaths from air pollution, and that people in urban areas are particularly exposed.

They called for the bloc to take more “effective action” and update the Directive, as well as mainstream air quality in its policies and raise public awareness.

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