31 October 2017 – EU policy briefing calls for further action to tackle the twin challenges of climate change and air pollution
This briefing for EU policy-makers, developed by the Lancet Countdown and the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), contains recommendations to unlock the health and environmental co-benefits of tackling climate change and improving air quality in Europe. The briefing emphasises the huge opportunity for synergies that can be achieved from integrated prevention strategies, given that the drivers of both climate change and air pollution often overlap.
Despite the EU being the world’s leading region in terms of climate change and air quality legislation, 9 out of 10 EU citizens are still exposed to levels of air pollution above World Health Organisation guidelines. This is primarily due to widespread non-compliance with EU laws. A first step therefore is to ensure proper enforcement of existing European standards.
But effective policy-making and an efficient use of public resources require the mainstreaming of air quality and climate mitigation across policy domains, including energy, transport and agriculture. The opportunities for climate and health of phasing-out coal or using the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy to tackle emissions from agriculture are immense. Likewise, mainstreaming climate adaptation into cohesion policy will enable countries to prevent unnecessary deaths, including from heatwaves which are likely to become more frequent and severe.