What’s happening to air quality?
In the EU almost 380,000 premature deaths can be attributed every year to air pollution. The health costs of air pollution caused by road transport in Europe have been estimated at €67 billion to €80 billion annually by a study for the European Public Health Alliance. Air pollution also reduces agricultural yields, causes irreversible damage to ecosystems and the loss of biodiversity as well as degradation of historical buildings and monuments.
Europe’s current air quality policy has been the main driver for improvements, but progress has been too slow. This is because emissions limits are still not being consistently respected in real life and many harmful pollutants remain unregulated. What’s more, the WHO says that there are no safe levels of air pollution and new evidence shows that air pollutants may harm every organ in the human body, which makes stricter legislation even more necessary.
Protecting air quality in Europe
Although the latest Euro 6d-temp/6d standards have somewhat reduced emissions from new cars, progress has been limited. Vehicles with combustion engines – diesel, petrol or natural gas – can never be clean when all pollutants or driving conditions are taken into account. It is time to prioritise public health, the environment and zero-emissions technology. For the future Euro 7/VII standard, the EU must set vehicle emission limits to the lowest level globally and define a clear roadmap to zero-pollution.