The Malta Independent 14 November 2019, Thursday

Malta has not submitted National Air Pollution Control Programme; deadline was last April

Kevin Schembri Orland Wednesday, 16 October 2019, 17:31 Last update: about 28 days ago

Malta is one of the EU member states that has not yet filed its National Air Pollution Control Programme (NAPCP), even though the deadline was last April.

The programmes are the main governance instrument by which EU Member States must ensure that the emission reduction commitments for 2020 and 2030 are met, the European Commission website reads. "The first programmes were due for 1 April 2019, the European Commission website reads.

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The Commission is then required to examine the NAPCPs, including the possible attainment of the emission reduction commitments and the emission reduction trajectory between 2020 and 2030, in light of the EU Directive's requirements, the EU Commission website reads.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) on Wednesday released a 2019 report called 'Air quality in Europe'. This report presents an updated overview and analysis of air quality in Europe from 2000 to 2017. It reviews the progress made towards meeting the air quality standards established in the two EU Ambient Air Quality Directives and towards the World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines.

The EEA highlighted that there are three main pollutants causing significant damage in Europe.

"Poor air quality continues to damage Europeans' health, especially in urban areas, with particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ground-level ozone (O3) causing the biggest harm."

Speaking with The Malta Independent, a representative from the EEA said that data indeed shows that Malta has one monitoring station (Msida) with concentrations of PM10 (Particulate Matter less than 10 μm in diameter) above the daily limit value. This has been the case at least since 2013, the EEA said. "In any case, you should bear in mind that data presented in the report do not take into account the possibility, for checking compliance, of subtracting the contribution of natural sources." A number of EU countries were above the limit value.

The EEA also confirmed this newsroom's further interpretation of the report data, that, In terms of PM10 concentrations in relation to the annual limit value in 2017, Malta remained below the annual limit value in 2017, but was mainly above the World Health Organisations air quality guidelines.

Highlighting a particular part of the report, an EEA representative said that it indicates that there were 210 premature deaths estimated for Malta in 2016 attributed to exposure to PM2.5. In terms of the EU, this number stood at 374,000 estimated premature deaths. Premature deaths is defined in the text as “deaths that occur before a person reaches an expected age. This expected age is typically the life expectancy for a country stratified by sex. Premature deaths are considered preventable if their causes can be eliminated.”

Margherita Tolotto, Air and Noise Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau (Europe's largest network of environmental citizens' organisations) told The Malta Independent: "Air pollution harms us all, but is particularly damaging for the most vulnerable: children, pregnant women and the elderly. There's no secret about how to cut pollution: we need clean power and heating systems, greener and smarter transport, and sustainable production and consumption of food. EU legislation is there to protect us from harmful pollutants, yet the Maltese government is ignoring its legal obligations and failing to deliver cleaner air. People in Malta deserve better than this."

The European Environmental Bureau also highlighted that the estimated contribution of international maritime navigation - not included in the numbers of the EEA report - in 2017 would add 20% to the total EU-28 NOx emissions, 5% of PM10 emissions, 7.5% of PM2.5 emissions and 22% to SOx emissions', and said that this contribution is expected to increase. "The designation of all European seas as full Emission Control Areas to reduce pollution from shipping would benefit air quality in Malta as well."

 


 

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