European Commission adopts the Zero Pollution Package

Great news! On October 26, the European Commission adopted the Zero Pollution Package, including the revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directive. This marks a significant step towards eliminating emissions and rendering our cities healthier and cleaner. 

The Zero Pollution Package is part of the implementation of the Zero Pollution Action Plan. Among the three legislative proposals of this Package is the revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directive, marking a clear improvement over the previous legislation and bringing EU air quality standards more in line with the WHO 2021 guidelines, although not fully aligned. New AAQ standards were needed for a long time and will address a major concern of our citizens, as air pollution is a major cause of premature death and disease and is the single largest environmental health risk in Europe.

As seen by the results of the Zero Pollution Special Eurobarometer recently published on 24 October 2022, our citizens are seriously worried about Europe’s air quality and demand stronger action at all levels of decision-making:

  • 47% of Europeans consider that air quality has deteriorated in the last ten years.
  • 67% of Europeans who are aware of EU air quality standards support their strengthening.
  • 65% of Europeans think that more action should be taken at the international level, followed by European and the national level (both 42%), and 32% at the regional or local level. 19% of the respondents also believe that actions should be carried out at all levels simultaneously.

Cities and regions are ready to step up and do their part by enacting more ambitious Urban Vehicle Access Regulations (UVARs), such as stricter Low Emission Zones, brand-new congestion-charging zones, and Zero-Emission zones. However, they must not act alone, as EU legislative support is needed to tackle the major source of urban air pollution – gasoline and diesel vehicles.

To reduce these vehicles' harmful emissions, decisive action must be taken, as they will continue to circulate on European roads for at least ten years after the entry into force of the new CO2 standards for sales of cars and vans in 2035. An ambitious Euro 7 regulation for cars, vans, buses and trucks is essential, as any shortcomings regulating these emissions will limit the capacity of cities and regions to provide good levels of air quality to its citizens.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Ivo Cré (Director Policy & Projects - Coordinator Access) and/or Pedro Gomes (Project Manager - Coordinator Clean vehicles & Air quality Working Group) from POLIS Network.