The UKs Green MEPs have described the outcome of a vote in the European Parliament today as a licence to pollute for carmakers. Jean Lambert, Molly Scott Cato and Keith Taylor slammed Tory MEPs who supported the measures, which will allow car manufacturers to produce and market cars that emit pollutants more than twice the legal EU limit until 2021 and by 50% more indefinitely after that.
Nitrogen Oxide emissions from diesel vehicles is responsible for around 75,000 premature deaths in Europe per year while air pollution contributes to the deaths of 29,000 people a year in the UK with cars being a key contributor.
Writing for the Ecologist today, the three Green MEPs urged their colleagues to ‘do the right thing’ and vote against the measures, but a majority of MEPs voted in favour. The measures were put forward by the European Commission last September, with support from Member States. Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, said:
“This is a devastating result for human health and for the environment. Weakening existing EU pollution limits for cars will make it impossible for European cities to meet the standards for air quality set out in EU law. We wanted MEPs to support us in preventing car manufacturers, EU technicians and compliant politicians undoing the progress that has been made to protect public health and the environment.”
Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, highlighted the role car manufacturers and lobbyists have played in watering down the limits. She said:
“This vote underlines the damaging and deadly influence the car industry has on the EU Commission and EU governments. The fact that Tory MEPs were urged to vote in favour of these deathly loopholes  reveal a government that has a dangerously cosy relationship with the car manufacturing industry and their lobbyists.”
Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, sits on the European Parliament’s environment committee that recommended MEPs vote down the loopholes. He said:
“Greens will continue to fight for clean air and full compliance with emission limits set down in EU law, but there is no shying away from the fact that today’s vote is a victory for the polluters and a big blow for the health of tens of thousands of people across the UK and Europe. Those MEPs who voted through these loopholes must now share responsibility for the failure to act on the silent killer that is air pollution”.