Clean up the Air!
Every day, we breathe in about 15,000 litres of air. Besides the essential oxygen, a lot of dangerous pollutants end up in our lungs. In particular, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM) constitute a serious danger to people’s health. In addition to this, individual pollutants such as diesel soot (a component of PM) also contribute to climate change. Therefore, any reduction in air pollution contributes significantly both to general health and to climate protection - in the end cleaner air means better quality of life. Coordinated by the German VCD, nine non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are now taking action for clean air in Europe and with the Clean Air campaign.
The European Air Quality Directive
In the year 2008 the European Commission combined five previously existing acts on air pollution policies into the European Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC (AQD). The AQD is an attempt to improve the efficiency of individual laws and to achieve more clarity and simplification of the regulations and legal requirements. The overall goal is to improve the implementation of air quality policies by EU member states. The directive combines provisions for assessing and monitoring air quality by means of limit values for several different pollutants such as particulate matters (PM10), nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, airborne lead, benzene, carbon monoxide and ozone. Provisions for agreements on the exchange of information and data from networks have also been included.
In their thematic strategy on air pollution, the EU even states that it is their aim to achieve air quality that “causes no significant adverse effects to human health or the environment and thus no corresponding danger”.
By integrating the AQD into national law, the EU member states have unambiguously committed themselves to those goals. And, even more important, every European citizen has the right to breathe clean air, as the European Court of Justice has established in various judgements.
LIFE+ Clean Air? NGOs Take Action to Clean up the Air
Despite the existing legislative framework and the citizens’ right to clean air, continuing violations of air pollution limits remain a problem and threaten health, the environment and the climate. With the contribution of the LIFE+ financial instrument of the European Union, nine NGOs are now taking action in the Clean Air campaign, created to improve implementation of the AQD on national and local levels.
Taking part in the project are as different associations
- the German VCD
- the German Umwelthilfe DUH
- the German Naturschutzbund Deutschland NABU
- the German Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz BUND
- the Austrian VCÖ - Mobilität mit Zukunft
- the European Federation for Transport and Environment T&E
- the Danish Ecocouncil
- the Clean Air Action Group CAAG from Hungary
- the Slovakian Centre for Sustainable Alternatives CEPTA.