From coal to cars, EU states fail to combat air pollution

Economic heavyweights France and Germany continue to violate limits of one of Europe’s most common urban pollutants, nitrogen oxides, despite their legal obligations to clean up the air.

At the same time, France, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom have sought to exempt dozens of coal-fired energy stations from the EU’s pollution regulations for large-combustion plants, allowing the heavy polluters to continue operating at least until the end of 2015.

Health and environmental groups say such examples of timid regulation and uneven enforcement of laws undermine efforts to cut some of Europe’s most pernicious emissions, including nitrogen oxides, or NOx, which affect local as well as trans-European air quality.

Spotty compliance with the rules comes despite a generation of EU efforts to reduce levels of NOx, sulphur dioxide (SO2), mercury and carbon emissions in road transport, industry, energy production, aviation and shipping.

Reports released ahead of the EU’s Green Week, which runs through 7 June, have exposed widespread breaches of pollution laws and their costly effects on healthcare and human lifespans, with some studies saying that bad air causes as many as 500,000 premature deaths per year in the EU – 0.1% of the bloc’s population.

continue reading From coal to cars, EU states fail to combat air pollution | EurActiv.

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