Pan European Networks - Government - page 198

India, where rapid economic development is
beginning to lead to an increase in problems
related to air quality.
This is an issue that the Commissioner raised
again during his closing speech at the end of
the week, saying: “Green Week works best
when it is a genuine forum of exchange
between different groups. I was pleased to hear
directly from representatives from industry. I
was struck by the message that progressive EU
environmental legislation is needed to stimulate
cutting-edge research and innovation.”
He went on to give two examples where
industry has backed green legislation.
“The clean technology industry demanded
stricter EU emission limit values for vehicles,
as well as retrofitting requirements, improved
emission test cycles, and promotion of SULEVs
(Super Low Emission Vehicles). It also stressed
that the EU should not stop at Euro 6. We need
to keep pace with the latest developments
elsewhere, and particularly in the US.
“And the fertiliser industry has called for more
incentives to promote low ammonia-emitting
fertilisers and higher nutrient use efficiency for
agriculture. This confirms my conviction that
ambitious air policy means greater benefits for
European competitiveness.”
O
nce a year, the European Commission’s Environment Directorate-
General organises ‘European Green Week’. In Brussels, high-level
events take place, focusing not only on the political, but also on
the technical matters pertaining to environmental issues and policy. And
across Europe, throughout Green Week, other events take place in order
to promote interest in environmental matters and policy. This year, the
focus of the week fell on ensuring clean air for all.
The figurehead for environmental action at the EU level is, of course, the
Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potocˇnik. The Commissioner
spoke at Green Week on a number of occasions. Also discussing the
dynamics around air pollution and other issues were some of the most
important scientific and political personalities on the European stage.
There was a plethora of speakers and representatives from organisations
such as the European Commission, governments of member states, the
European Environment Agency, the private sector, and cities at the
forefront of environmental action, sharing their perspectives over the
course of the week.
PEN attended a key media briefing, at which the Commissioner made
it clear that the topic of clean air was absolutely critical, given its impact
on the quality of life of European citizens. Yet from the outset he warned
that Europe was still too accepting of poor air quality. Despite the
damage that air pollution does to human health and the environment,
high levels of pollution in the air breathed by millions of European
citizens on a daily basis is tolerated. In contrast, when it comes to water,
governments and citizens across Europe are resolutely committed to
ensuring its cleanliness.
Of course, much progress has been made on improving air quality in
recent years, but in order to ensure continued progress on the subject
at the European level, there is a Review of EU Air Policy taking place at
present, the results of which are expected later this year. This exercise
is a key priority for the Commission, as it is set to comprehensively
analyse existing EU policy and consider what impact it has at present,
and whether European legislation could play a more productive role in
promoting cleaner air across Europe.
Meeting the challenge of dirty air also presents an opportunity for
innovative solutions and economic development. Potocˇnik highlighted
this to the assembled international press. He explained that shifting to
technologies that generate less air pollution, such as low-emission
vehicles, could boost a European manufacturing sector that is caught in
the economic doldrums, as well as providing ample opportunities to
export such technologies – especially to countries such as China and
Pan European Networks: Government
07
198
Air agenda
PEN
reports from European Green Week 2013, where the Commissioner for
the Environment,
Janez Potocˇ nik,
has made air quality a priority for 2013
ENVIRONMENT
Janez Potocˇnik
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