National Air Pollution Control Programme a joke: no attempt to actually reduce pollution

Alternattiva Demokratika notes that the National Air Pollution Control Programme (NAPCP), for which public consultation closes today, fails to call for the implementation of effective measures to reduce substantially dangerous emissions from vehicles, namely NOx (nitrogen oxides). The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) and the Ministry for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change are failing us. Either the Ministry or ERA or indeed the government are not ready to take the measures necessary to reduce air pollution.

The main effects of NOx is the increased likelihood of respiratory problems, especially in children and older people. NOx inflames the lining of the lungs, and it can reduce immunity to lung infections. This can cause problems such as bronchitis. This pollutant can also cause more frequent and more intense asthma attacks.

AD spokesperson on transport and infrastructure and Secretary General Ralph Cassar said:”The NAPCP on page 44, table 2 says that in the scenario “with measures” Malta will emit a total of 4.9kt of NOx when the limits are only 2kt. With so called “additional measures” proposed in the draft action plan emissions go down marginally to 4.5kt (page 68). This is unacceptable. The Ministry and Cabinet should let ERA do its job and instruct it to come up with a plan which will achieve the 2kt NOx target. An example of the reluctance of government to take real and effective action can be found in the document itself. On page 49, it is stated that so called ‘low emission zones’ in congested and polluted roads will only ‘be studied’. The time for just studying things when it comes to pollution should have long been over. We demand the implementation of low emission zones which restrict the access of vehicles to polluted areas and the implementation of other effective measures to tackle pollution from vehicles.”

“Government’s failure to tackle pollution from road transport which is a major contributor of NOx emissions (41.7% in 2030) is testament to a couldn’t care less attitude. Government couldn’t care less about people’s health and wellbeing so much so that it presenting us with an action plan that does not even attempt to reach targets.”

“Government’s carelessness means that it is breaching Directive 2016/2284. The aims of this Directive as explained in recital 27, states clearly that citizens of EU member states have a right to expect that member state governments comply to the directive since non-compliance has a direct effect on their health. The Maltese Government, it seems, is intent on ignoring our rights as citizens for clean air.”

Note:Directive 2016/2284 Recital 27: “The aim of this Directive, inter alia, is to protect human health. As the Court of Justice has pointed out on numerous occasions, it would be incompatible with the binding effect which the third paragraph of Article 288 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) ascribes to a directive to exclude, in principle, the possibility of an obligation imposed by a directive from being relied on by persons concerned. That consideration applies particularly in respect of a directive which has the objective of controlling and reducing atmospheric pollution and which is designed, therefore, to protect human health.”