LCC and others call for action on air quality

air quality

LCC has joined a number of other charities in writing to the Rt Hon Liz Truss MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to ask her to support recommendations that would help tackle poor air quality in London and beyond. 

The letter has been sent in advance of the Environment Council's discussion on the revision of the NEC Directive on 15 June. Every year, more than 400,000 Europeans are estimated to die prematurely because of poor air quality, including around 30,000 people in the UK, and the damage to health from air pollution is estimated to cost the UK £16bn a year. The NEC Directive is a unique instrument to reduce emissions across the continent. Without this, the UK Government’s work to improve air quality risks being undermined by pollution coming from elsewhere.

The letter asks the Rt Hon Liz Truss MP to support the following recommendations:

1. Emission reduction commitments for 2020, 2025 and 2030 must be greater

The NEC Directive should ensure the achievement of the EU’s air quality objective i.e. attain “levels of air quality that do not give rise to significant negative impacts on, and risks to, human health and the environment”. Greater emission reductions would bring greater benefits, in particular for people’s health.

2. Emission reduction commitments for 2025 should be legally binding

The Commission’s proposal to set legally binding commitments for 2030 is too late, particularly in view of the relatively low ambition level for 2020. Earlier action to cut air pollution must be a priority.

3. Methane should remain within the scope of the Directive

The Enviromment Council is considering the deletion of methane from the Directive. Methane needs to be covered by the NEC Directive in order to reduce the formation of ground-level ozone. This is not the case under current EU legislation.

4. Mercury should be added to the scope of the Directive

Mercury is a toxic and highly trans-boundary pollutant causing great damage to health and ecosystems. Its inclusion in the NEC Directive would ensure overall emission reductions which will help reduce people’s exposure to mercury, thereby contributing to the implementation of the EU’s obligations under the Minamata convention.

The letter, sent by ClientEarth, has been co-signed by organisations including Friends of the Earth, British Heart Foundation, Greenpeace, Clean Air in London and Campaign for Better Transport.