New air pollution limits go in right direction for cities

  • environment

Cities call for the Parliament and the Council to back the Commission’s targets for 2020 and beyond

The European Commission has proposed a review of the legislation on air quality. This would have a big impact on Europe’s cities as it would improve the air citizens breathe. Our network is calling on the European Parliament and member states to back the Commission’s air quality targets for 2020, 2025 and 2030.

Europe’s city authorities are striving to improve air quality and meet the EU’s current hourly and daily limit values of pollutants. They are providing better and cleaner public transport, more room for cycling and walking, or putting in place low emission zones and congestion charges. They are also making overall traffic management more efficient and supporting the renewal of heating installations.

The centrepiece of the Commission’s proposal, a revision of the National Emission Ceilings Directive, can make a vital contribution to fixing the problem of poor air quality in cities. The directive sets upper limits for the emissions of major pollutants over a year in each EU country. Each member state then has to decide how it is going to comply. Air quality in cities depends in large part on national energy and transport policies. Through taxes, member states can incentivise cleaner fuels and technologies for road vehicles and heating installations.

By proposing tighter air pollution targets, the Commission is putting pressure on member states to adjust their national policies and is helping to lower overall emission levels. James McKay, Birmingham City Councillor and chair of the EUROCITIES environment forum, said: “Cities’ best efforts at delivering cleaner air locally can’t make up for the fact that national limits of major pollutants must be tightened. Without the European Parliament or Council toughening these, mayors’ and city leaders’ best efforts to strive for cleaner air will be hampered by the EU's failure to equip them with the necessary tools.”

The Commission is also suggesting the use of EU structural and investment funds for measures that improve air quality, and is proposing to establish a European Clean Air Forum which supports dialogue between stakeholders and different levels of government.

 To read the press release EUROCITIES sent to the media, click here.