The European Parliament has approved strict new national limits on major pollutants to be met by 2030. The limits are expected to halve the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution each year, estimated at 400,000 in the EU and 50,000 in the UK.
MEPs today voted:
- To include ammonia and methane, two pollutants largely emitted from agriculture. MEPs voted to exempt enteric methane (emitted from ruminant animals' belches).
For binding interim targets for 2025 as a way to ensure EU countries are on track to meet the 2030 goals.
For 2030 targets in line with Commission's original proposal (the Environment Committee had called for more ambitious 2030 targets).
To exclude mercury, which comes largely from coal-powered plants. (This had been added to the Commission proposal by MEPs in the Environment Committee – the European Parliament has now called on the Commission to do an impact assessment before if necessary coming up with a new proposal to reduce mercury emissions).
Prior to today's vote MEPs were have been under strong pressure from the farming sector and national governments including the UK, who have pushed to exclude agricultural emissions and water down the overall targets. In a previous vote in the European Parliament Environment Committee, Conservative MEPs voted against the proposal.
Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, one of the lead negotiator's on the law, commented:
"Air pollution causes ten times more deaths each year than traffic accidents, yet we are still not doing enough to tackle this invisible killer.
"These ambitious pollution limits will ensure that every sector, from industry to agriculture, plays it part in cleaning up Europe's air.
"The long-term benefits of improving air quality will far outweigh the short-term costs."
Catherine Beader MEP - Take A Deep Breath (Air Pollution Debate)