Air pollution has been a long-standing environmental problem in Europe. Though significant progress has been made, over 90% of the EU’s urban population is still exposed to air pollution levels exceeding the science-based guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO). The fight for better air quality in the EU is not over – and it’s a battle in which citizens can take an active part.
In October 2022, the Commission proposed major revisions to its air quality rules, bringing them more in line with WHO guidelines. The changes are part of the EU’s zero pollution vision for 2050 to reduce air, water and soil pollution to levels no longer considered harmful to health and natural ecosystems. However, air pollution levels remain significant with particularly high levels in some countries and particularly bad health effects for some groups, such as small children and the elderly. The struggle to address this has even taken the form of legal battles that aim to enable those harmed by air pollution to sue local, regional and national governments for their right to clean air.
In the latest “Green Deal – Big Deal?” podcast episode, the hosts Ewa Iwaszuk and Aaron Best from Ecologic Institute speak with interview guests Margherita Tolotto (Senior Policy Officer for Air and Noise at the European Environmental Bureau) and Agnieszka Warso-Buchanan (Senior Lawyer in ClientEarth). We discuss the problem of air pollution, the important role that lawsuits have played in forcing action, the current effort to bring the law in line with the science – and what citizens can do to have their voices heard in this debate.