Air pollution plan ‘is a joke’, Green Party says of weak emission targets

‘No attempt to actually reduce pollution’, Alternattiva Demokratika says of national air pollution control programme

The National Air Pollution Control Programme (NAPCP), for which public consultation closes today Friday, has failed to call for the implementation of effective measures that reduce substantially dangerous emissions from vehicles, namely NOx (nitrogen oxides).

Alternattiva Demokratika accused the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) and the Ministry for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change of being “not ready to take the measures necessary to reduce air pollution”.

“The NAPCP on page 44, table 2 says that in the scenario ‘with measures’ Malta will emit a total of 4.9 kilotons of NOx when the limits are only 2kt. With so called ‘additional measures’ proposed in the draft action plan emissions go down marginally to 4.5kt (page 68). This is unacceptable,” AD secretary-general Ralph Cassar said.

The main effects of NOx is the increased likelihood of respiratory problems, especially in children and older people. NOx inflames the lining of the lungs, and it can reduce immunity to lung infections. This can cause problems such as bronchitis. This pollutant can also cause more frequent and more intense asthma attacks.

“The Ministry and Cabinet should let ERA do its job and instruct it to come up with a plan which will achieve the 2kt NOx target. An example of the reluctance of government to take real and effective action can be found in the document itself. On page 49, it is stated that so called ‘low emission zones’ in congested and polluted roads will only ‘be studied’. The time for just studying things when it comes to pollution should have long been over. We demand the implementation of low emission zones which restrict the access of vehicles to polluted areas and the implementation of other effective measures to tackle pollution from vehicles.”

Cassar said the government’s failure to tackle pollution from road transport, a major contributor of NOx emissions (41.7% by 2030) was “testament to a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude. Government couldn’t care less about people’s health and wellbeing so much so that it presenting us with an action plan that does not even attempt to reach targets.”

Cassar also accused the government of breaching the EU Directive on air pollution (2016/2284) which gives EU citizens “a right to expect that member state governments comply to the directive since non-compliance has a direct effect on their health.”

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