This Wednesday 19th November 2014, the European Court of Justice ECJ will deliver its judgment in ClientEarth’s case against the UK Government over its failure to tackle air pollution.
ClientEarth, a member of the Healthy Air Campaign, took the UK Government to court for the illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide a harmful pollutant whose main source in our towns and cities is diesel vehicles. Last year, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the Government was breaking the law by failing to ensure that legal limits of this pollutant were met.
The ECJ’s ruling will determine what action the UK courts can take against the Government. It will also be binding for all EU countries. So it sets a precedent that will enable challenges against any EU countries failing to protect their citizens from air pollution.
The EU Air Quality Directive requires EU countries which have failed to meet air quality limits to prepare a plan to reduce air pollution in the “shortest time possible”. However, current UK Government plans will not meet nitrogen dioxide limits until after 2030 – 20 years after the original deadline. Is this the shortest time possible? The ECJ’s verdict will help make clear what needs to happen.