Health groups call on the leaders of the Western Balkan countries to harmonize national air quality standards with the World Health Organization Global air quality guidelines. Health experts should be actively involved in these decision-making processes to ensure the timely integration of public health measures into environmental policies. Compliance with WHO recommendations brings multiple benefits – reduced incidence of chronic diseases and premature deaths, reduced overall health costs and, most importantly, better health and higher productivity of people.
Over one million people and 100 environmental NGOs across Europe are calling on the European Union to restart its economy by launching the biggest green investment plan the world has ever seen, financed by the bloc’s increased budget and recovery instrument. Tomorrow [Friday], MEPs will decide what they want in the EU’s Recovery Fund and seven-year budget ahead of the European Commission’s much awaited proposal next week.
Alongside, the Green 10 coalition of environmental organisations have organised an appeal urging lawmakers to design a green, healthy and just recovery with a fund investing hundreds of billions into home renovations, scaling up renewable energy, restoring natural habitats, boosting public transport and zero-emission mobility, and greening agriculture.
The environmental groups have stressed that all recovery plans must put people’s wellbeing at the heart of the crisis response, deliver social benefits and protect workers’ rights through a ‘just transition for all’. The NGOs and petitioners warn against EU and national governments bailing out polluting industries involved in sectors such as gas, oil and coal, chemicals, cars and airlines. Any stimulus investments must be conditional on companies’ alignment with social, environmental and climate objectives. The EU must improve the environmental safeguards of the next budget, dedicating at least 50% to climate and the environment and excluding all fossil fuel subsidies.
Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, said: “The COVID-19 crisis teaches us that prevention is better than cure. Acting to prevent dangerous climate change is the best way to get Europe and the world out of this economic crisis in a way that protects citizens and economies from future disruptions. And an ambitious climate policy is a guarantee that the stimulus package will have the most value for its money. For the next EU budget that means no support to fossil fuels and spending plans that serve the transition to climate neutrality.”
Ester Asin, director of the WWF European Policy Office, said: “We’ve heard a lot of lip service paid to a ‘green recovery’ lately, but now it’s time for decision-makers to put their money where their mouth is. The current crisis is a stark reminder of how closely human and planetary health are interlinked – only together can people and nature thrive. A green recovery means restoring nature, protecting our environment, and accelerating the transition to a carbon-neutral and resilient economy. MEPs must lead the way.”
William Todts, executive director at Transport & Environment, said: “This is Europe’s moment of truth. We want the Commission to propose the biggest green stimulus plan the world has ever seen. This is the only way to keep Europe together and to emerge stronger, healthier and greener from this crisis.”
Green 10 letter to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen: Ensuring that the MFF 2021-27 and EU ‘recovery fund’ are consistent with the European Green Deal