From: Associated Press
Published June 28, 2006 12:00 AM

EU Governments Move Closer to Agreement to Cut Air Pollution

LUXEMBOURG — European Union governments moved closer Tuesday to agreeing on tough plans to reduce air pollution, which the European Commission claims kills 370,000 citizens a year.

EU environment ministers agreed on a new draft bill to reduce all major pollutants, notably airborne particles emitted directly into the air, which experts say are the most dangerous to human health and which are found in smog and ground-level ozone.

The proposed legislation, dubbed the "Ambient Air Quality Directive," includes proposals to introduce new standards on diesel vehicle emissions, setting a cap on concentrations of smog in cities and cutting red tape in existing EU environmental legislation to improve implementation of existing rules.

The agreement reached by EU ministers is set to face problems in the European Parliament, which will now study the EU government draft before adding its own changes.

The EU assembly's environment committee last week demanded lower thresholds for emissions of particles, notably the smaller, finer particles, known as PM2.5, which experts say pose the greatest threat to human health.

The legislation needs the backing of both EU governments and the EU parliament before it can become law across the 25-nation bloc.

The aim of the EU plan is to reduce by around 40 percent the number of premature deaths caused by illness or ailments linked to air pollution by 2020.

EU officials have acknowledged the new pollution caps -- on everything from car emissions to pesticides -- will cost industry and governments some euro7.1 billion (US$8.9 billion) a year to implement.

The European Commission said human health damage from air pollution is estimated to cost the European economy between euro427 billion and euro790 billion (US$537 billion and US$993 billion) a year.

Source: Associated Press

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