EU court rules Italy’s NO2 levels breach air pollution law

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that Italy has breached the EU’s key air pollution law with excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution in cities across the country.

Environmental lawyers have said it is ‘no surprise’ that Italy’s pollution levels have been condemned by the EU court.

ClientEarth’s Director of Nature and Health, Ugo Taddei, commented: ‘Multiple Italian cities routinely appear on lists of the most polluted places in the EU – it’s no surprise that it has finally been condemned by the EU court.

‘We can only hope that regional and national authorities finally start acknowledging the scale of the problem, and the very real impacts on people’s lives, and implementing measures that genuinely make the air safer to breathe. This is people’s right, and the government’s legal responsibility.’

gray concrete building

The Court of Justice of the European Union previously ruled against Italy over PM10 pollution in 2020.

The ruling said that the timelines Italy laid out for compliance were unjustifiable, in some cases predicting legal levels nearly two decades after the 2005 legal deadline.

Commenting on the ruling in 2020, Taddei said: ‘Italy is one of the worst countries in the EU for air quality and illegal levels of pollution have been a multi-year, nationwide emergency. This ruling is the result of years of poor management of the issue at regional and national level – a failure which has put people’s health on the line.

‘This judgment should leave national leaders with no choice but to act without further delay. We need to see a complete turnaround, with new regional air quality plans that slash levels of pollution in the shortest time possible, to bring air quality within legal limits.

‘Cities and Member States across the EU have been subject to legal action by civil society and by the EU itself because being forced to breathe dirty air is unacceptable in the 21st century. Now, in the face of Covid-19, we have all been reminded how important it is to protect respiratory health. We can no longer pay the price of toxic air.’

Photo by Carlos Ibáñez


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