Greenpeace has sent a formal notice to the Walloon Environment Minister Carlo Di Antonio and his Flemish counterpart Joke Schauvliege. The organization blames them for lack of action to combat air pollution and for inadequate measures to assess the situation. If no convincing reply is received within one month, Greenpeace intends to take the matter to court.
“These governments are guilty of negligence in defending their citizens against the catastrophic impacts of air pollution on our health,” said Joeri Thijs, head of Greenpeace’s air quality campaign. “Our country is lagging behind and has high scores mainly on nitrogen dioxide emissions, mostly from diesel engines. This is why we decided to take them to court.”
According to a new study by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute commissioned by Greenpeace, there is no safe level of air pollution. “Even when concentrations are below European standards, there is still a significant negative impact on our health,” the organization said.
“We are all poisoning our children because they are even more sensitive than we to inhalation of air polluted by nitrogen dioxide,” says Thijs. The risk of asthma in children thus increases by 15% each time they are exposed to 10 μg / m³ of nitrogen dioxide. The European standard is set at 40μg / m³.
Greenpeace carried out tests in Brussels and Liège during the first week of the school year. The conclusions are that children transported to school by car are exposed to unhealthy amounts of polluted air.