Brexit: What will be the impact on air pollution?
June 21, 2016 – 12:16 pm
by Emma Howardwww.youtube.com
Up to 4200 more people could be at risk of premature death from air pollution in 2030 if the UK fails to sign up to new legislation as a result of exiting the European Union, an analysis by Energydesk has found.
The analysis is based on data from the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) looking at the impact of new EU legislation. If the UK votes for Brexit on Thursday, it is unlikely the UK would be bound by such legislation.
However it could be that less than 4200 people would be affected as the UK could stand to benefit from the reduced pollution imported from mainland Europe if the National Emissions Ceilings Directive (NEC) comes into force. Harmful particles can also come from further afield such, as the Sahara desert, as was the case with a major pollution event in 2014.
EU ministers are meeting this week to discuss a new law that aims to drastically reduce the health impacts of a number of pollutants, by setting new caps for EU countries on their emissions of fine particulates (PM2.5), nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, ammonia and methane.
The final outcome of the NEC directive is currently being discussed in Brussels with a final decision expected by the end of June.
If the UK votes for Brexit on Thursday, it is unlikely the UK would be bound by such legislation, although this could be subject to negotiations.
Air pollution could already be responsible for up to 50,000 premature deaths in the UK a year, by exacerbating health conditions including heart disease and respiratory problems, according to the Environmental Audit Committee. It has also been linked to onset of type 2 diabates and classed as a “group one” carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
The situation has been described by cross party MPs as a “public health emergency”.
The UK has flouted EU limits on the pollutant nitrogen dioxide for years – the legal limit for 2016 was broken within 8 days in some parts of London. Last year the Supreme Court ordered the government to create an action plan for change in a case won by the environmental NGO ClientEarth.
They are now suing the government again for plans they deem inadequate.