London air pollution targets delayed due to EU ‘loophole’

Flickr: Stox - Ideas Playground

I had high hopes that the government would fit the bill of ‘green government,’ and do what it had promised by tackling air pollution and climate change.

It seems, however, that I was mistaken.

I shouldn’t be surprised, but when a government claims to be green you do expect that it will be. Unfortunately, even though we live in an environmentally conscious world it seems that tackling the dangerous air pollutant, Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in London is not important.

If that’s the case then the government can’t claim the title of being green. But surely they’re doing everything they can to reduce emissions?

I’m not so sure considering the fact that the government failed to meet reduction targets in 2010. Now, though, it looks as if they can delay targets by as late as 2015 with a time extension under EU rules.

Of course, if you thought that was bad, consider this. Those in government clearly understand that as ‘green’ as they like to claim they are, they know that they can’t reach their targets by 2015.

Cue a search under EU rules and it seems that a loophole has been found. A loophole that, government lawyers have argued in High Court, would allow the government to delay meeting their NO2 targets by as late as 2025!

This delayed move will have an alarming effect on those who suffer from asthma and respiratory problems. So alarming in fact that in 2008, the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) revealed that an estimated 29,000 deaths were the result of air pollution.

This just tells me that the government is certainly not as green as it thinks as it fails to tackle an issue that is connected with health problems in London. According to a report by the British Medical Journal heart attacks are the result of air pollution and lung impairment in children after a 10-year study in California revealed that lung capacity decreased by 10 per cent.

Even though lawyers from ClientEarth have urged the High Court to scrap the plans and have asked that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) put forward a plan that will cut NO2 levels by 2015, Defra could still appeal.

This then poses the threat that any further discussion on the issue would be put on hold until 2013. This means that nothing will have been achieved by next year, which is also the deadline for EU air quality targets to be reviewed. At this stage Defra could apply for fresh time extensions.

Even though Defra said that they will meet EU targets, will they really? Seeing as they weren’t met in 2010, what are the chances that the 2015 or 2025 ones will be?

But, as the congestion in London continues to spew out harmful pollutants, millions of people are left to suffer the consequences until the ‘green government’ decides when the time is right to tackle London’s air pollution.


2 thoughts on “London air pollution targets delayed due to EU ‘loophole’

  1. Neccesity is the mother of all inventions. In this case profit is the mother of all motivations. Just as the land owners controlled the kings, the corporations control all the governments. The enviroment is not their concern profit and control is, and they will continue to dangle the carrot in front of you, and you will continue to reach for it, but you will get only crumbs of bread.

    • The environment should be their concern and should be something that’s considered a profit for future generations to enjoy as well. It’s very egotistical to think that just because we have access to something we can take advantage of it without worrying about the repercussions until it’s too late. Profit may be a motivator, but that’s not to say that governments can’t be motivated to do what’s right for the planet, producing a profit as well.

      I don’t understand why it’s so hard for them to think about the impact we’re all doing and the ways in which we can reduce our footprint. It’s obvious that climate change is real (those who don’t believe it need to take off their rose-tinted glasses), but it seems that many people are of the opinion that if something does happen there will be someone ready with an answer as to how we can rectify the situation. The reduction of CO2 is important; we only have to look to China to see the affect it has as well as the countless reports on birth defects and increased respiratory problems. But until measures are taken to reduce emissions there will be millions of people living their lives breathing in harmful pollutants.

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