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European Parliament closer to zero air pollution goal, thanks to S&D’s push


13 Sep 2023


Global Europe
Today, the European Parliament, under S&D leadership, took an ambitious position on the revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directive, ahead of the upcoming negotiations with the Commission and the Council to finalise it.
The aim is to drastically reduce air pollution in line with the EU’s zero-pollution goal by 2050 and the wider Green Deal objectives. Tragically, air pollution is responsible for nearly 300,000 premature deaths annually in the European Union, making it the most significant environmental threat to our health. Air pollution contributes to a wide range of health issues, including heart attacks, strokes, respiratory problems, diabetes, dementia and lung cancer.
Our Group strives to make the Green Deal’s zero air pollution target by 2050 a reality, by laying out a clear roadmap on how to achieve this goal. We have improved the Commission’s proposal, ensuring that the European Union’s legally binding air quality standards will align with the most recent guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation by 2035 at the latest.
We have also made air quality measurements taken at monitoring stations across Europe more comprehensive, as well as strengthened public information through standardised air quality indices across Europe.
Even more importantly, we have introduced the right to compensation for those affected by air pollution, a major novelty in EU legislation.
Javi López, S&D MEP and European Parliament’s Chief Negotiator on the Air Quality Directive, stated: 
“Air pollution is a silent pandemic that deserves more political attention than it has today. Air pollution, just like climate change, is not an accident of fate to which we should resign ourselves. Much more can and must be done. Today’s approval of the Air Quality Directive marks a big step towards cleaner and healthier air for everyone in Europe.
“Shocking figures reveal that air pollution causes 300,000 premature deaths in the European Union every year. This highlights the urgent need for action. By aligning our report with the latest guidelines from the World Health Organisation, we aim to provide Europeans with stronger safeguards against the harmful effects of air pollution.
“While the goal of achieving zero pollution by 2050 is admirable, it is too distant. That’s why we must take decisive steps to significantly reduce pollutant emissions much sooner.”
Tiemo Wölken, S&D co-ordinator for environmental policies, added:
“The effects of air pollution are most drastic amongst working class Europeans, who cannot easily move out to the suburbs or afford air filters. It is our common responsibility to make our air safe for all, from our children to our elderly. With the position now adopted, we reconcile ambition with certainty for industry and municipalities.”


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