E.U. Proposes Ambitious Plans To Clean Up Air Pollution by 2020
BRUSSELS, Belgium The European Union head office proposed scaled-back plans Wednesday to reduce air pollution, which it claims kills 370,000 EU citizens every year.
The restrictions on everything from car emissions to pesticides will cost industry and governments 7.1 billion euros ($8.6 billion) a year to implement, 41 percent less than a package presented in June. The new rules must be approved by national governments in the 25-nation bloc to take effect.
EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said the plans to cut air pollution in the region by 2020, "will enable Europe to have one of the most advanced air policies to secure better and cleaner air for European citizens, decreasing the various risks connected with air pollution."
The new strategy aims to reduce the use of all major pollutants, focusing on the airborne particles emitted directly into the air that experts say are the most dangerous to human health and which are found in diesel car exhausts, ground level ozone and the everyday smog hanging over most of Europe's biggest cities.
The plans include introducing new standards on car emissions, setting a cap on concentrations of smog and cutting red tape in existing EU environmental legislation.
The Commission said human health damage from air pollution is estimated to cost the European economy between 427 billion euros and 790 billion euros ($519 billion and $960 billion) a year.
"If we did not act we would have to pay much more in the future," Dimas said. "So actually by acting now we shall decrease the cost of the health systems of the member states, and also we will also protect our forests, and our fresh waters and all the ecosystems from further destruction."
The EU head office said it estimates its environmental package will deliver savings of around 42 billion euros ($51 billion) per year "through fewer premature deaths, less sickness, fewer hospital admissions (and) improved labor productivity."
The World Health Organization has said the region can save up to 161 billion euros ($196 billion) a year in health costs by reducing air-pollution deaths.
Source: Associated Press