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Member States must reduce air pollution to bring more benefits than costs to society

The number of premature deaths due to air pollution could be reduced by around 55 per cent in 2030 compared to 2005 if Member States implemented all measures agreed and announced under the existing EU legislation regulating sources of air pollution and limiting climate change.

This is the conclusion of the Second Clean Air Outlook report, which presents the prospects for reducing air pollution in the European Union up to 2030 and beyond. The report also stresses that more could be done, as there are still plenty of measures for reducing air pollution that would bring more benefits than costs to society.

“This report sends a clear message,” commented Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Oceans Virginijus Sinkevičius. “Further reducing air pollution would save more lives, reduce pressure on ecosystems and it makes economic sense. This is the approach we are taking with the European Green Deal and our Zero Pollution ambition. It is paramount that all Member States fully implement the agreed and planned measures and step up efforts to tackle emissions.”

The report updates the analysis of the First Clean Air Outlook, in particular by including the measures put forward by Member States in their National Air Pollution Control Programmes and an increased level of ambition to fight climate change. It feeds into the preparation of the Zero Pollution Action Plan, contributing to the European Green Deal objective to “protect, conserve and enhance the EU’s natural capital and protect the health and well-being of citizens from environment-related risks and impacts”.

The report shows that with the full implementation of all existing legislation, most Member States would be on track to fulfil the 2030 reduction commitments for four (sulphur dioxides, nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds and fine particulate matter) out of the five air pollutants regulated under the National Emission reduction Commitments (NEC) Directive. However, these measures would not be enough to reduce ammonia emissions (which originate at 90 per cent from the agricultural sector) to maximum permitted levels, as fifteen Member States would still have to urgently take actions beyond those announced in their national programmes. 

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