Most Europeans living in cities are still breathing air that is dangerous to their health, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA) in a new report; governments are not doing enough to cut toxic emissions at source, campaigners warn.
Data show that harmful emissions, especially from farming and domestic heating, are not decreasing fast enough. Almost every EU member state in 2018 exceeded air pollution limits recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
How many wake up calls do government officials need to take on air pollution? Their delay is costing us our health and a safe environment. They know what needs to be done to improve air quality: cleaner energy and industrial production, greener and smarter transport, and sustainable farming.—Margherita Tolotto, Senior Policy Officer for Air and Noise at the European Environmental Bureau
Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Italy breached EU limits for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), one of the most dangerous forms of air pollution which caused about 417,000 premature deaths in 41 European countries in 2018.
EU laws require member states to respect binding emissions reduction targets set in the National Emission Ceiling Directive (NEC), and to detail their plans to cut air pollution. Yet, one year and half past the deadline, the Italian plan is still in draft form while Greece, Luxemburg and Romania have presented no plan at all.
The EEA report recognizes that long-term exposure to polluted air makes people more vulnerable to respiratory diseases such as Covid-19.