Yes, this is indeed the year that European countries that are doing too little to clean up the release of particles dangerous for human health (general dirt, soot, dust and poisonous gases) especially prevalent in city centres will be taken to court. Starting with Bulgaria, Slovenia and Lithuania. Sweden is already in the EU court system for failing to clean up outdoor air from 2005-2007 in cities centres.
You might think this is an insignificant problem, but nearly all EU countries are breaking EU clean air standards. According to the EU’s department for the environment 420,000 people in the EU die earlier than they should because of polluted air and many more become sick each year.
But it is not just the EU which has issues. The situation in China is so bad in some cities that it is considered a threat to economic growth. Many are concerned with the poor air quality situation and the central government seems aware of the political problem this could cause. A PM2.5 count (fine particles dangerous for health) in Beijing of 450 or in Shanghai of 200 does not compare with WHO’s limit of 25 so favourably. This is happening at the same time when 10 of China’s population (around 1,350 million people) of the next five years, are dramatically changing their life style by moving from the countryside to the city. The Mayor of Beijing, Wang Anshun, has promised a programme of actions to clean up the air. Removing around 180,000 old polluting vehicles (however remember that over 250,000 new cars each year roll out onto the roads of Beijing) and replacing old heating systems. He has promised a city of blue sky and green earth and clean water. Time will tell.
Monica Kleja, Ny Teknik page 6, 23 Jan 2013
Jenny Hedelin DI, page 14, 24 Jan 2013