EU’s clean air proposals a good first step, but must go further

October 26, 2022

The Clean Cities Campaign welcomes today’s publication by the European Commission of the proposed revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directive (AAQD) as a step in the right direction. 

The AAQD proposal rightly includes tougher air pollution limits and stricter monitoring requirements to tackle our toxic air. However, we believe the Commission has missed an opportunity to align limits for concentration of pollutants with the WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines. 

Furthermore, our recent research has shown that the WHO limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) for instance could almost be achieved using tried-and-tested solutions such as zero- and low-emission zones (LEZs). Today’s proposal however, does not include modelling of the impact of LEZs – this despite the fact that the Commission itself has said that the current AAQD has already driven the creation of LEZs in cities. [1]  

The Clean Cities Campaign calls on all cities to be more ambitious in their attempts to tackle this most urgent of public health crises. 

Barbara Stoll, Director of the Clean Cities Campaign, said: “Setting air pollution limits that are not aligned with the latest health science is like suggesting people keep smoking but stick to light cigarettes – EU clean air laws have been the main driver for reductions in urban air pollution. Cities now need up-to-date and science-based guidance from the EU to be able to further implement policies that once and for all deliver clean air. This is particularly true for low-emission zones that our research has confirmed to effectively curb toxic air pollution, but are ignored in the Commission’s modelling. We call on the Parliament and Council to significantly improve the Commission’s proposal in the coming months.” 


[1] The Commission proposal states that “the Ambient Air Quality Directives trigger increased action in urban areas to move to lower emission mobility, introduction of low-emission zones, increased uptake of public transport and active mobility to attain limit values.” (page 4, see link)

Press contacts:

Celeste Hicks | Communications Manager | Clean Cities Campaign | | +44 7957 915696

Barbara Stoll | Director | Clean Cities Campaign | | +44 7985 637173

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