Air Clean Up

  • 71% Want Tougher Air Quality Measures

71% Want Tougher Air Quality Measures

Dec 12 2019 Read 486 Times

More than two-thirds (71%) of EU citizens believe that the bloc should impose more stringent measures targeting air pollution, according to a recent survey by Eurobarometer. Over 27,000 individuals were asked for their views on a number of different issues pertaining to air quality, as part of the run-up to the Clean Air Forum which took place in Slovakia last month.

Another key takeaway from the survey was the fact that most people do not believe the situation surrounding air pollution is communicated clearly or effectively, with more than half (54%) of interviewees stating they do not know enough about the issue in their home country. The results are reflective of a growing trend towards greater awareness surrounding the ongoing health crisis that is the abysmal state of Europe’s airways.

Ignorance is not bliss

One of the key threads running throughout all of the respondents’ answers was a lack of knowledge on the issue, despite a thirst to learn more. Less than a third (31%) of those who were asked had even heard of air quality standards. Of those who had, almost two-thirds (63%) believe that they are not stringent enough.

A lack of awareness and a tendency towards pessimism was displayed elsewhere in the fact that people today are more likely to think that air quality has deteriorated in the last decade than they did in 2017, even in countries or regions where it has improved. This ignorance is more prevalent among the general public than in the industrial world, where a recent survey of European opinions on SO2 emissions monitoring found that 22% of respondents thought there was too little real-time information available to them.

When it came to a question of responsibility, over half of those who responded to the Eurobarometer survey said they thought that not enough was being done across all sections of society, from private households to public authorities to industrial energy companies. However, just under half (44%) said that they believed top-down regulation was the best way to instigate change.

Setting a precedent

In more encouraging news, the EU won a valuable court case against one of its member states in October of this year. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that France had not done enough to limit harmful emissions of NO2 in recent years, thus endangering the health of its population. The ECJ dismissed all excuses and mitigating factors put forward by the defendants to produce the first judgement of its kind in European history.

It’s be hoped that the ruling is sign of a growing trend towards greater awareness surrounding air pollution issues and greater enforcement of air quality standards. Indeed, that trend is not just limited to Europe; earlier this year, a global emissions conference in India was an unprecedented success, demonstrating that air quality is becoming a mainstream concern even in countries where it has been traditionally ignored.

As purported pioneers of clean air legislation and robust air quality standards, Europe must show an example for developing countries like India to follow. The Eurobarometer poll demonstrates that the public will for such an example is certainly there, though it remains to be seen if a political one will accompany it.

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