A host of tough measures to reduce the impacts of transport on air pollution and its contribution to climate change have received strong support in the European Parliament. The ‘own initiative report’ by Green MEP Bas Eickhout – which will pave the way for future European legislation – has recommended road charging based on distance travelled; a tax on aviation fuel; the removal of VAT exemption on air passenger tickets and the phasing out of CO2 emitting cars amongst a wide range of proposals.
Welcoming the vote, Keith Taylor MEP, a member of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, said:
“This report is a welcome reminder of the positive air quality action being driven by the European Parliament. EU air pollution limits are preventing thousands of deaths every year across Europe and allowing ClientEarth to continue to hold the UK government to account for Britain’s toxic air.”
“Air pollution is a well-documented public health emergency in Britain. Toxic air can shorten life by a staggering ten years. Each week Ministers fail to act, the equivalent of 960 lives are needlessly lost.”
“The Government must ensure that it does not use leaving the EU as a cover under which it abdicates responsibility for this public health emergency.”
“For the sake of the health and prosperity of the British people, we cannot risk scrapping EU air pollution safeguards. Even the Tories readily acknowledge that, in the face of domestic apathy, it is EU law that has driven air quality action in the UK – today’s vote is just the latest example.”
“We cannot seriously tackle climate change without putting the brake on transport, which is responsible for a quarter of all carbon emissions in Europe. Neither can we clean up our air if we do not reduce traffic levels.
“Yet we have actually been incentivizing the most polluting forms of transport over cleaner forms in the UK. While the cost of car travel has fallen by 16% since 1997, train fares have risen by 23% and coaches and buses up 33%. The cost of domestic flights also dropped 16% between 2010 and 2015. And the money invested in active forms of transport such as walking and cycling are totally insignificant when compared to the billions wasted on road building.
“It’s time to redress the balance. If the recommendations of this report become legislation it would make the polluter pay and contribute to creating a healthier environment as well as help Europe meet its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.”