As 200 people protested about air quality in Brussels on Saturday, the regional environment Minister Céline Frémault said she “understands why Brussels residents are concerned”. She spoke about measures the government have already taken, which include introducing a low emission zone in 2018. These measures should “rapidly improve air quality”, she said in a press release.
It has adopted a maximum level of 50 micrograms per square metre of air, after which the population has to be informed so it can act by adjusting its behaviour. The government has introduced the “Plan Air Climat Energie” (Air Climate Energy Plan), approved in June 2016. This Plan will introduce a permanent low emission zone, from which the highest polluting cars will be banned. It will spread across all 19 Brussels communes.
“This measure should rapidly improve air quality. But people have to understand that it will take time to put it in place. They also have to understand that it has to be introduced gradually so everyone can adapt. This will make sure all Brussels residents adhere to it”, says Céline Frémault.
This low emission zone is expected to be introduced in 2018, with a ban on cars at level Euro 1 and lower. Euro 2 cars will be banned from 2019, Euro 3 from 2020, Euro 4 from 2022, and Euro 5 from 2025.
The Minister also said that measures have been taken to improve the energy performance of buildings through energy bonuses. Green loans will also be increased.
Despite all this “air quality has to be dealt with in a serious manner, at federal level. We are waiting for them to propose tax breaks to encourage people to use transport such as bicycles, trains, etc…” she said.