Europe, it’s time to get serious about air quality

Clear the air with clean fuels

24-04-2018

It might not be visible to the naked eye, but the air we breathe is not nearly as clean as it should be. In fact, almost half a million people in Europe die prematurely every year as a result of air pollution. When it comes to air quality, the greatest culprit is traffic – especially diesel-powered vehicles. And that’s completely unnecessary. There are many alternative fuels already available that are better for our air quality.

‘Last chance’ for EU member states and air quality

In the past year, poor air quality caused the European Commission to reprimand a number of Member States. France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy all received a ‘final warning’ because they were not complying with the set standards for air quality. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. According to the Commission, there are still eighteen more Member States that aren’t meeting the requirements.

On January 30th, nine Member States came to Brussels for a meeting with European Commissioner Karmenu Vella. He gave them one week to present an action plan for improving air quality. According to Vella, the Commission “has consistently said that it wishes to be ‘big on the big things’. And it doesn’t get bigger than the loss of life due to air pollution”.

PitPoint strongly agrees with Vella on this point. However, in my role as CEO of PitPoint and ambassador for the use of clean fuels, I’d like to take it a step further: if the warned member states don’t make changes very soon, then it’s time for the Commission to bare their teeth. Empty promises are simply not enough to prevent the number of annual air pollution victims from increasing. Concrete action is the only way we can reduce emissions of harmful substances.

Clear the air with clean fuels

We’ll soon find out whether or not it comes to that. The plans submitted by the nine Member States for combating air pollution and reducing it to EU standards are currently being evaluated. If they are not sufficient, the next step will be legal action. This was confirmed by the Commission on the same day that the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) called on the European Union to take decisive action to fight air pollution.

They also argue that there’s still much progress to be made in terms of improving air quality, and recognise the role that hazardous emissions from transport and traffic play in this issue. At the same time, they realise that awareness is growing among Member States, and as a result, they are making a greater effort to improve air quality. Take, for example, the polluting diesel vehicles that will soon be banned from cities like Rome, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart, which I wrote about in my previous blog post.

In London too, good steps are taken. The local police recently announced it will deploy extra hydrogen cars. This is a trend that is noticeable throughout the United Kingdom. It is great to see that the British are so interested in clean mobility.

Plenty of clean fuels, not enough clean vehicles

The automotive industry also plays an important role in improving Europe’s air quality. For example, a study conducted by the Platform for Electromobility, which includes representatives from parties like Tesla, Transport & Environment and Siemens, shows that the problem isn’t a shortage of charging stations, but rather a shortage of electric vehicles. For economic reasons, the European automotive industry unfortunately has decided to switch to cleaner models only from 2019 onwards. So this is where significant progress in terms of cleaner air in Europe can, and should be, made.

At PitPoint, we’re making every effort to ensure that cleaner fuels like LNG, CNG, biomethane, hydrogen and electricity are widely available for existing and future vehicles. The technology is already here today. My urgent appeal to all stakeholders in the fuel supply chain is this: let’s work together for cleaner air. We believe that 100% clean transport is possible from 2030. But the path to zero emissions starts now!