Belgium latest EU battleground for legal action on air pollution

Citizens are taking regional authorities in the BeNeLux nation to court over the toxic atmosphere in the most recent example of climate justice in action.

Belgium has become the latest battleground for legal action on air pollution, with nine members of the public opting to file proceedings against the local governments of Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels as a result of perceived health risks caused by atmospheric pollution. 

The action has been partly catalysed by an increased disconnect between national and regional air pollution limits and those recommended in the most recent guidance from the World Health Organisation. While not legally binding, the most recognised medical body on the planet’s calls for even greater reductions of ambient pollution have given legal claims more legitimacy, encouraging more to take this route. 

ClientEarth, which is providing representation to the nine citizens, issued a statement on this latest case: ‘The Belgian authorities are exposing people to levels of air pollution up to four times higher than scientists have deemed acceptable to breath.’

Many of the claimants suffer from respiratory heath issues, and are arguing failure at governmental level to tackle the toxic atmosphere is a breach of their fundamental right to breathe clean air. Using the excuse that national regulations will change once the EU updates its rules is, according to them, not a reasonable excuse. 

Last month, ClientEarth also began proceedings against the German government over its lack of action on air pollution.

Image: François Genon


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