Ahead of a crucial air quality debate due to take place in the European Commission in the next few weeks, HEAL and other NGOs joined forces with the green group European Environmental Bureau (EEB) to reiterate calls for an urgent upgrade of key air legislation. The Health and Environment groups took action in the novel form of a mini-run during the Brussels Marathon.
The ‘Run for Clean Air! Everywhere’ organised by EEB and part of the wider event of the Brussels Marathon involved citizens from all over Europe. By running in the European capital participants called on decision makers to take action now and ensure they can live, and run, in clean cities.
EU Commissioners will be meeting in the coming weeks to discuss the fate of the National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive – which could contribute to better air quality in Europe. The much-needed revision of the Directive has been postponed since 2007, which is particularly bad news for the health of children and those suffering from respiratory diseases. Air pollution is known to increase respiratory problems and diseases, such as asthma. In order to reduce the burden of disease and death caused by air pollution, action is needed now. (See HEAL and EEB press release sent out in July).
The reasons for the delay of the revision are unclear. Air pollutants are estimated to cause close to half a million premature deaths each year as well as severe damage to the environment through its climate impacts, acidification of water and soils, and ozone layer damage. Studies available on the Commission’s own website show that the benefits of a revised NEC Directive to health, environment and the economy will significantly outweigh the costs involved.
Air quality would also benefit as a side-effect of more ambitious EU policy to mitigate climate change. For example, our recent report, Acting now for better health: A 30% target for EU climate policy, demonstrates that cleaner energy and cleaner air, associated with an immediate move to 30% domestic cuts in greenhouse gases by 2020, would go a long way to paying for itself in better health through Europe.
Find out more information on national and local air pollution in Europe with HEAL and EFA’s Know Your Air for Health page
Read more about EEB’s Run for Clean Air! Everywhere
For all the photos – see here
|Running for Clean Air|
Written on 12 October 2010.