Labour MEP Claude Moraes has been campaigning on London’s poor air quality.
On 1 May the UK Supreme Court handed down a judgement formally declaring that the UK is breaching NO2 laws and has now referred the Client Earth case against the UK government to the EU Court of Justice.
The UK government only planned to bring London into compliance with the EU Air Quality Directive in 2025, a whole 15 years after the original deadline of 1st January 2010. In arguing its case, the UK government admitted that it had been in breach of the legal limits for Nitrogen Dioxide since 2010. It claims that it is under no obligation to produce a plan to reduce air pollution before 2015 – leaving millions of Londoners exposed to the health risks of air pollution, which causes 29,000 early deaths per year, more than obesity and alcohol combined.
Air pollution near London’s busiest roads is twice or three times WHO guidelines and legal limits; and levels of NO2 in London are the highest of any capital city in Europe. Not only this, but the UK has the highest proportion of zones exceeding the NO2 annual limit in the EU. Despite this, the government has made further attempts to weaken public health protections on pollution.
Labour MEP for London Claude Moraes tabled an urgent question to the Council of Ministers following reports that the UK government attempted to water down public health protections in EU environmental policy at a meeting of ministers in Dublin. The Mayor of London’s answer has been to spray roads with glue, in the hope that the pollution will stick to the ground; rather than attempting to reduce the amount of pollution we are pumping into the air.
For more information on this issue you can contact Claude’s office or follow the Clean Air in London campaign here.
David Schoibl of the Labour Movement for Europe reports on the joint LME-SERA event held in Parliament in November.
Introducing the purpose of the event, the Labour Movement for Europe (LME) Chair David Schoibl pointed out that Europe can no longer be seen only as an issue of foreign policy and foreign relations. Rather, he said, the concept of Europe is an integral part of many broader policy areas, such as environmental policy. The event which the LME has co-organised with SERA (Labour’s Environment Campaign) is the result of the LME’s plan to highlight the importance of individual policy areas in the context of Europe, and is planned to be the first in a series of co-operations with other socialist societies, trade unions and other progressive organisations.
Opening the debate, David Norman, Campaigns Director at WWF said that from his perspective the European Union is a great example for what is possible when people cooperate. As an example, David mentioned the EU’s Water Framework Directive, which he calls ‘maybe the best piece of environmental legislation which has ever been done’. He explained that this directive is an example of how working together can make it possible to come up with real pragmatic solutions which overcome short-term interest which otherwise so often hampers the political process. Continue reading
Join us at our joint event with Labour Movement for Europe next week on the need for co-operation in Europe on environmental and energy issues.
6pm, 27 November
Committee Room 6, House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA
Our speakers are:
- Mary Creagh MP (Shadow DEFRA Secretary)
- Jonathan Gaventa (Programme Leader at E3G)
- David Norman (WWF Director of Campaigns)
- David Schoibl (Chair LME)
- Chair: Cllr Leonie Cooper (Co-Chair SERA)
Please allow for 20-30 minutes to make your way through security and up the stairs to the Committee Room. Hence, if you can aim to arrive at Parliament by 17:30, as we’ll be kicking off a 6pm sharp.
As Rio+20 closes, the next essay from our new pamphlet by leading Labour politicians on sustainable development is by Linda McAvan MEP, considering the European dimension to the issues.
At the Rio+20 Summit, as at most major international negotiations, the UK will be attending not as an individual country, but as part of the European Union (EU) delegation. The 27 EU Member States have submitted a joint position to the UN which has been negotiated over several meetings of Europe’s Environment Ministers and endorsed at the recent EU Summit of Heads of State. This determination to act together and present a clear, common purpose reflects a determination to learn lessons from the EU’s experience at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Summit. On that occasion, the EU’s failure to speak with one voice as different Heads of State attempted to upstage each other led to the EU being sidelined in the final hours of negotiation – despite it being the most prepared delegation at the talks. Continue reading