Air pollution is a growing problem for European cities. The WHO estimates that toxic gas emissions coming from cars are responsible for 75,000 premature deaths in Europe each year. Actions to deal with this situation such as alternate circulation or banning cars from the historic centres were taken by various European cities. However the impact of these measures might be endangered following the European Parliament decision to allow car manufacturers to violate the European emissions standards.
This move from the EU is baffling looking back at the commitments it made a few months ago at the COP21 in Paris. The adoption of high environmental standards have been one of the major accomplishments of the Union and the VW scandal should have been an occasion to reaffirm these measures.
In an open letter published on March 16th, 20 mayors from the biggest European cities denounce the EU’s U-turn on the respect of toxic gas emissions by cars. “How can we protect the health of our fellow citizens when the European Union has rubber-stamped a permit to pollute, at the expense of public health?” “Should we tell them that their government has prioritised the health of the automotive industry over their own?,” they write.