Britain has failed to meet strict standards on air pollution but has now asked the EC to ignore that and wants the limit raised.
It was the failure to meet EC agreed emissions limits which led to green groups taking the Government to court and winning and which has led to Welsh Government being forced to introduce lower speed limits on the M4 and A55.
|It the pollution limit is now raised it will cast doubt on the need for lower limits and anyone convicted of exceeding the limit could appeal as it was set on discredited data.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe’s largest network of environmental organizations with 141 members in over 30 countries.
The European Union’s National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive sets absolute caps for the amount of pollution allowed by any one country within a year.
|The UK, Germany, France, and Spain are among eleven governments that have asked the European Commission to retrospectively raise their ‘emission ceilings’ after breaching their national air pollution limits in 2016.
Green groups have also warned that the governments of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Ireland and Luxembourg are attempting to use a legal loophole to hide their failure to cut harmful air pollution.
However, governments can request that the limits set for previous years be raised, if certain circumstances apply. This process is known as an ‘inventory adjustment’, but campaigners say that granting these adjustments undermines the law as targets can be raised after they have already been missed.
Margherita Tolotto,EEB’s Air Quality Policy Officer said, “Earlier this year we welcomed the Commission’s decision to send a number of governments to court for failing to clean up their toxic air. Now we are asking the Commission to once again step up and protect Europeans from harmful pollution.”
A number of governments have applied for their 2016 limits to be retroactively raised as a result of false data generated by the emissions tests and discredited in the dieselgate scandal. The European Commission must now carefully examine their requests and decide whether they should be granted.
In to European Commissioner Karmenu Vella, EEB Secretary General Jeremy Wates said that the use of inventory adjustments should be kept to the “strict minimum” and that it should be considered whether governments have taken any action to tackle additional emissions before granting any adjustments.
National emission ceilings are designed to work in tandem with ambient air quality rules that set limits on the concentrations of pollutants in the air we breathe in towns and cities.
The most recent adjustment requests concern emission ceilings for nitrogen oxides (NOx), ammonia (NH3) and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs). All governments asking for adjustments to their NOx limits used “road transportation” as their justification.
“Governments are arguing that their limits should be raised because science is proving the problem is worse than we thought – for example by showing just how polluting dirty diesel cars really are.
“This is an astonishingly illogical justification. Not only does it help to hide a serious health threat from the public, it also protects cheating companies from deserved criticism and appropriate consequences. Let’s not forget, it was national authorities in Member States that failed to properly check vehicle emissions, the EU should not allow governments to hide their failure to deliver on their original commitments.”