Tuesday

25th Sep 2018

London street uses 2016 air pollution quota in one week

  • Putney High Street in London: more pollution in the first eight days than is allowed in all of 2016 (Photo: stevekeiretsu)

Just a week into the New Year, a street in south-west London has already exceeded its pollution budget for 2016.

Under EU air quality rules, Putney High Street was allowed to break the limit on its level of nitrogen dioxide concentrations on no more than eighteen occasions this year.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

On Friday morning (8 January) a monitoring station registered the ceiling being broken for the nineteenth time.

While symbolic of the difficulties governments have with keeping the air clean, it is not a record. Last year Oxford Street used up its permitted breaches within four days.

London has been unable to stay under EU nitrogen dioxide ceilings since they were put in place in 2010. Nitrogen dioxide is mostly produced by traffic, in particular by diesel cars.

But the United Kingdom is not alone in its failure to reduce pollution.

By December, the European Commission had opened infringement procedures for failure to comply with nitrogen dioxide limits against six of the largest EU states: Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the UK.

Ceilings for particulate matter are ignored on an even larger scale. The commission has opened procedures against 16 of the EU's 28 member states – more than half of the countries. Two of them, Poland and Bulgaria, have been taken to court.

There is an extra dimension to the UK's struggle to improve air quality.

In 2014, the EU Court of Justice ruled that the UK Supreme Court could order the government to do more in the battle against air pollution. The British court has since told Whitehall that it should come up with a new plan, which it did last month.

But according to environmental law firm ClientEarth, the plan was not ambitious enough. It said it would sue the government again, according to Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, 2016 will see discussions in Brussels between national governments and the European Parliament on new air pollution limits for the period 2020-2030.

The two sides will discuss targets for each country in private meetings mediated by the EU Commission.

With only one side being responsible for the execution of plans that keep air pollution limits below those targets, tough negotiations can be expected. Some countries argue that it is better to set targets that are “realistic”.

Meanwhile, an estimated 430,000 Europeans die prematurely every year because of the health problems caused by air pollution.

And while some progress has been made, for example in Putney High Street, where the annual overshooting went down from 2,768 times in 2011 to 1,329 last year, it still has a long way to go.

The place of the breach is ironic, since the Putney district is known historically for its clean air.

In 1903, author John Cunningham Geikie described the district in The Fascination of London, calling it “one of the pleasantest of the London suburbs”.

“The immense increase in the number of houses in late years testifies to its popularity; but there is still an almost unlimited extent of open ground which cannot be covered; and with wood and water, common and hill, there will always be an element of freshness and openness in Putney seldom to be obtained so near London,” Geikie wrote.

Over a century later, the district no longer appears to quite live up to Geikie's description, with regards to air quality at least.

MEPs snub regulation of cow methane

Methane is second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. But MEPs voted to exclude "enteric methane," which is 80 to 85 percent of agriculture's share of emissions.

News in Brief

  1. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group
  2. Half of EU states at risk of missing recycling target
  3. Commission refers Poland to EU top court over rule of law
  4. Open Society Foundation takes Hungary to court
  5. EU court asked to rule on halting Brexit
  6. EU threatens Switzerland on stock trading
  7. Italy's new basic wage restricted to Italians
  8. UK tycoon offers to create pro-Brexit party

Opinion

No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected

Following the 2030 renewable target of 32 percent, chair of the European Parliament's environment committee Adina Valean argues in order to reach our climate and energy goals, we need both public and private investment over the next decade and beyond.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  2. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  3. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  4. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  5. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  6. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  7. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  8. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us