[cleanairuk_news] Clean air conference (Brussels 8 Jan.) 'EU Year of Air'

Network for Clean Air contact at cleanairuk.org
Thu Jan 10 11:48:30 GMT 2013

*EEB conference ‘Blowing the Winds of Change into European Air Policy’*

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe's largest federation of
environmental organisations with 140+ member organisations who gain their
membership from the general public.

In Brussels, on 8 January 2012, the EEB hosted a high-level conference on
the future of EU air policies in Europe called ‘Blowing the Winds of
Change into European Air Policy’. The EEB called for the tightening up EU
air policies to protect human health and the environment.

Information about the conference included in this report includes:

1) Reporting by the EU commission of a keynote speech by EU Environment
Commissioner Janez Potoènik at the conference;
2) Link to Reuters news agency reporting from the conference;
3) Press release from EEB about conference.


*1) EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potoènik at the conference*


*Transcript of speech:


*EU Opinion poll: Eurobarometer 360 ‘Attitudes of Europeans towards air
quality’ (January 2013)

*2) Reuters reporting*

Reuters - ‘European Union has to crack down on diesel –officials’  (8
January 2013)


*3) EEB Press Release*


*Air pollution threat highlighted at launch of 2013 Year of Air*

BRUSSELS, 8 January 2012: The beginning of 2013 marks the start of the
European Year of Air. At a high-level conference on the future of EU air
policies in Europe ‘Blowing the Winds of Change into European Air Policy’,
the EEB today called for tightening up EU air policies to protect human
health and the environment. A new Eurobarometer poll released today shows
that air pollution is a key concern for EU citizens - 72% say that public
authorities are not doing enough to promote good air quality and 87% think
respiratory diseases are a serious problem. Poor air quality causes nearly
half a million premature deaths in Europe each year [1] and is associated
with high economic costs; hospital admissions, lost working days and
damage to ecosystems.

Current EU standards [2] for ambient air quality are weaker than those
recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) which are intended to
minimize the health effects of air pollutants.[3]  For fine particles
(PM2.5), which is one of the pollutants with the highest impact on
people’s health, the maximum concentration allowed is 25 µg/m3, currently
2,5 times weaker than what the WHO recommends for this pollutant, and will
only enter into force in 2015. In comparison, the US Environmental
Protection Agency is this year proposing an annual limit of 12 µg/m3 for
PM2.5 which is much more ambitious than the EU standards.[4]

Weak as they are, the EU standards, some of which were agreed more than 10
years ago, are still breached by most EU Member States.
Jeremy Wates, EEB Secretary General, said “Air pollution emanates from
sources all around us, be they cars, industrial plants, shipping,
agriculture or waste. The EU must propose ambitious legislation to address
all of these sources if it is to tackle the grave public health
consequences of air pollution.”

The conference will feature a keynote speech by EU Environment
Commissioner Janez Potoènik, speeches from Swedish Environment Minister
Lena Ek, Irish Environment Minister Phil Hogan and the chair of the
Environment Committee in the European Parliament Matthias Groote MEP. The
significant links between climate change and air pollution policies will
be highlighted by EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard.

The winning pictures of the Photo Story Exhibition “ImaginAIR” organised
by the European Environment Agency (EEA) will be exhibited for the first
time at the conference venue throughout the day. The prizes for the
competition will be awarded by the Executive Director of the EEA Prof.
Jacqueline McGlade and Commissioner Potocnik.


Notes to editors
[1] According to a recent study by the European Topic Centre on Air and
Climate Change (ETC/ACC) on behalf of the European Environment Agency
(EEA), pollution of fine particles is associated with more than 455,000
premature deaths every year in the EU’s 27 member states.
[2] http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/quality/standards.htm
[3] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/index.html
[5] In 2011, EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potoènik announced that the
revision of the National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive would be
postponed to 2013 - the EU Year of Air. All EU air legislation is under
review and subject to a public consultation
(http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-12-1337_en.htm) which is expected
to lead to legislative proposals later in 2013.
[6] The conference, organised in conjunction with the ‘Soot Free for the
Climate’ campaign, will take place in Brussels at the Representation of
the State of North Rhine-Westphalia to the European Union, and will serve
as the launch event of the 2013 Year of Air. There will be an opportunity
for photos and questions from 11.45 to 12.00 during and following the EEA
photo competition awards ceremony. Journalists with accreditation are
invited to attend.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe’s largest federation of
environmental citizens’ organisations. It is the environmental voice of
European citizens, standing for environmental justice, sustainable
development and participatory democracy. Our aim is to ensure that the EU
secures a healthy environment and rich biodiversity for all.

For any press queries please contact Alison Abrahams, EEB Communications
Officer, at alison.abrahams at eeb.org on +32 (0) 2289 13 09 or +32 (0) 489
304 962

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