Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, welcomed today’s Environment and Public Health Committee vote to strengthen EU air quality laws and introduce new caps for emissions of pollutant substances.
The proposal was passed despite the opposition of Fine Gael’s grouping in the EU Parliament, the European People’s Party, together with the Tories’ Conservatives group.
These are set to oppose it at the final vote by the full house, in the autumn, and in the Council of Ministers, as the EU countries’ governments have equal say with Parliament.
Speaking from Brussels after taking part the in the successful vote, Ms. Childers, a member of the Committee, said:
“This is, above all, an urgent matter of public health. Because it is invisible, however, the Commission wanted to snuff it out under the cover of its better-law-making drive, but thankfully, together with like-minded MEPs and NGOs, we managed to breathe new life into the proposal.
“In 2013, in Ireland alone, poor air quality claimed around 3400 lives prematurely. This particularly affects children, the elderly and those suffering from related air conditions, and many in the Irish medical community were rightly alarmed at the new Commission’s attempts at dropping the National Emissions Ceilings Directive proposals.
“We have included new, interim binding targets for 2025 and stricter emissions ceilings for 2030, including for mercury, ammonia and methane.
“The agricultural sector will be given time to adapt to the methane limits until 2030. I think this is a reasonable compromise which all main groups should have supported, strengthening the message sent to Member States.
“This is a feasible, sensible proposal whose long-term benefits outweigh the costs, so we shouldn’t put the interests of the biggest players in certain sectors ahead of human health.
“We have let air quality degrade for long enough.
“If these measures come to pass, we will make substantial savings in healthcare costs and prevent many premature deaths, by the Commission’s own reckoning, while stimulating growth in greener transport, industry and solutions to curb urban congestion.
“Nobody would challenge effective new measures to curb road traffic deaths, yet more people die every year from air pollution. For me, support for this proposal is a no-brainer.”