The UK was amongst Member States that backed stricter limits on toxic pollutants from large combustion plants in the EU. Rules will apply to all of the EU’s coal-fired power stations, including from nations that opposed the vote such as Germany.
More than 125,000 campaigners had signed a European-wide petition calling on the European Council and Member States to “clean up” toxic air. The petition was delivered to Brussels on the morning of the decision, which has to be met by 2021. Campaigners claimed the decision could save 20,000 deaths lives as a result of improved air quality.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) took part in six years of negotiations leading to the publication of the document. EEB claimed that delays to the ruling had led to €150bn in associated health costs and more than 55,000 premature deaths.
EEB’s policy manager Christian Schaible said: “This is finally some good news on tackling air pollution. Tried-and-tested techniques exist to filter out or reduce harmful fumes yet the decision as to whether to use them is too often left to plant operators, who simply do whatever is cheapest. Today’s decision will now ensure that the dirtiest plants either clean up or close down.”