Stronger EU air quality policy needed

A majority of Europeans believe the quality of air has deteriorated in the last decade and are calling for stronger EU air quality policy. According to the European Commission’s new […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

A majority of Europeans believe the quality of air has deteriorated in the last decade and are calling for stronger EU air quality policy.

According to the European Commission’s new research, as many as 81% of people in Italy and 70-75% of those in Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Spain all agreed that air quality needs to improve.

The ‘Attitudes of Europeans towards Air Quality’ Eurobarometer survey showed strong support for further action at EU level and almost four out of five believed the EU should propose additional measures to address air pollution.

Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment said: “Citizens want us to act and we will respond by reviewing our air policy in 2013. They are asking for more measures in key sectors and better information on policy effectiveness. To meet these challenges we need to work together at all policy levels – and follow up with action on the ground.”

When asked about the most effective way to tackle air pollution, 43% suggested stricter emission controls on industry and energy production. Seven out of ten believed renewable energy should be prioritised as the main energy option in the future and around 85% of Europeans agreed with the “polluter pays” principle, where those who pollute pay for costs for the negative impacts for health and the environment.

People also said reducing their car use (63%) and replacing old energy-using equipment with more efficient models (54%) are the individual actions to take to improve air quality.

The survey findings will be fed into an on-going review on EU air policy by the European Commission which is due for the second half of this year.