Air pollution has been a long-standing environmental problem in Europe. Though significant progress has been made, over 90% of the EU's urban population is still exposed to air pollution levels exceeding the science-based guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO). The fight for better air quality in the EU is not over – and it's a battle in which citizens can take an active part.
In October 2022, the Commission proposed major revisions to its air quality rules, bringing them more in line with WHO guidelines. The changes are part of the EU’s zero pollution vision for 2050 to reduce air, water and soil pollution to levels no longer considered harmful to health and natural ecosystems. However, air pollution levels remain significant with particularly high levels in some countries and particularly bad health effects for some groups, such as small children and the elderly. The struggle to address this has even taken the form of legal battles that aim to enable those harmed by air pollution to sue local, regional and national governments for their right to clean air.
In the latest "Green Deal – Big Deal?" podcast episode, the hosts Ewa Iwaszuk and Aaron Best from Ecologic Institute speak with interview guests Margherita Tolotto (Senior Policy Officer for Air and Noise at the European Environmental Bureau) and Agnieszka Warso-Buchanan (Senior Lawyer in ClientEarth). We discuss the problem of air pollution, the important role that lawsuits have played in forcing action, the current effort to bring the law in line with the science – and what citizens can do to have their voices heard in this debate.
New episodes are released every month and can be accessed online or streamed on popular podcast platforms, such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Deezer, Google Podcasts or Amazon Music. Check out the website for more information on the podcast and webinar series.
Relevant links and documents
- Vast majority of Europe's urban population remains exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution (EEA)
- EU proposes stricter rules against air and water pollution (EU Observer)
- Zero pollution action plan (European Commission)
- European Green Deal: Commission proposes rules for cleaner air and water (European Commission)
- Air quality standards (EEA)
Listening to our podcast is nice, but not enough for you? You are in luck! In addition to the podcast series, we are organizing a series of eight online events, targeting young Europeans aged 18-35.
The recordings of our first three webinars, Green Deal – Big Deal for Youth?", "Farm to Fork: Feeding a continent without wrecking a planet", and The EU's carbon-neutral future: Achieving net zero by 2050" are already available online.
Keep an eye on the upcoming webinars and join us and our invited experts. We are keen to hear your questions, suggestions and ideas and discuss them together. Are you on board? Sign up for our mailing list, and we'll keep you up to date with upcoming webinars.