The EU Commission has today set out a package of measures to try and improve the quality of air in cities across Europe including Birmingham.

This includes measures to ensure existing targets for cities such as Birmingham are met in the short term, alongside new air quality objectives from 2030. There are also lower ceilings on national emissions from six pollutants, as well as new air quality rules for industry.

This means that Birmingham will definitely have to reduce its emissions to below EU legal levels by 2020. However this does not mean that there wouldn’t be legal proceedings against the UK for breaking air pollution laws before that date.

Birmingham Friends of the Earth have reacted positively to the proposals. As a group we are currently running a campaign called Let’s Get Moving, which aims to tackle air pollution through more investment in walking and cycling.

Julien Pritchard, our Campaigns Support Worker said:

“Europe is right to get tough on air pollution – in Birmingham alone there have been over 500 premature deaths so far this year due to poor air quality.

“The UK has been allowed to drag its heels on delivering clean air for far too long. The EU must ensure all of Britain meets existing legal limits on nitrogen dioxide by 2020 – including Birmingham.

“The UK Government and Birmingham City Council must take bold action to tackle air pollution. This includes further investment in cycling and walking infrastructure to make it easier for people to choose to walk or cycle. This would help reduce traffic and emissions from the 25% of car journeys in Birmingham that are under 2 miles.

“Tackling air quality in this way will improve the health of Birmingham citizens, save on healthcare costs, and also help the economy by reducing congestion.”