18/12/2013 TOUGH new EU rules on cleaning up London’s polluted air could save thousands of lives a year, according to the capital’s Green Party MEP Jean Lambert.
Ms Lambert made her comments as the European Commission unveiled a long-awaited plan to update Europe’s air quality laws to mark the European Year of Air .
If they secure the agreement of sufficient MEPs, the new laws will toughen existing limits on air pollution levels and call on all EU members to adopt World Health Organisation (WHO) limits on air pollution by 2050.
Ms Lambert, a founder supporter of Clean Air in London welcomed the rules, and said the onus was now on the UK Government to demonstrate its much-vaunted green credentials by complying with the law.
She said: “London is one of Europe’s most polluted cities – with as many as 4,000 Londoners dying prematurely each year as a result of poor air quality, much of it produced by diesel exhaust fumes.
“Yet the Mayor has been slow in really tackling the problem and the Government has applied pressure for existing EU rules to be watered down – rather than comply with them.
“This is not acceptable. The law is being broken, and people are dying as a result.
“Air-pollution is a cross-boundary issue. We need ambitious EU air quality standards in London in line with the recommendations of the WHO and we need effective action to meet those standards.
“The European Commission promised to take this on during 2013 – European Year of Air – and I am delighted it is now doing so. Today’s announcement is welcome and points a clear way ahead. The Government can demonstrate any few remaining green credentials by urging faster action and complying with the existing rules.”