The government of the Netherlands has been ordered by a court in the country to take immediate action to reduce air pollution levels, as current levels in some parts of the country are in breach of legal European Union particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide levels, according to recent reports.
The ruling is the result of a case brought to court by various environmental activists, and seems to represent a marked victory in the battle to deal with growing air pollution problems in the region.
“Limits on the emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide are still being violated, although they should have been restricted to the permitted levels long ago,” the District Court in The Hague ruled. “This the responsibility of the state.”
According to the country’s Caretaker Deputy Environment Minister, Sharon Dijksma, authorities will now be speeding up existing plans to reduce air pollution in order to comply with the order.
A spokesperson for one of the environmental groups behind the case, Anne Knol of the group Milieudefensie, was quoted as saying: “The judge is forcing the state to better protect the health of its citizens. This is a major breakthrough.”
Reuters provides more: “In a landmark decision in 2015, the same court ordered the government to cut carbon dioxide emissions to at least a quarter below 1990 levels by 2020. Estimates published this week showed emissions were 11 percent lower in 2016.
“The health ministry has warned that current levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter emissions, mainly caused by road traffic and factories, can lead to respiratory illnesses, with chronic exposure shortening life expectancy by more than a year.”
Certainly good reasons to go about dealing with the issue — all of which contribute to reduced worker productivity, it should be realized.
Notably, the new ruling bans “the government from taking steps that would lead to further violations of European emissions rules.” It’s not yet completely clear what than entails in practice, though.