ERS, the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and partner organisations have called for an “ambitious, stringent, logical and health-focused” Euro 7 Emissions Standards Policy to be implemented across the European Union (EU) – without delay.
The policy should be in line with the latest scientific recommendations and evidence on the health, social and environment effects related to internal combustion engines and road transport, including the 2021 World Health Organization (WHO) Air Quality Guidelines.
The Euro 7 was proposed by the European Commission in late 2022 and presented a legislative proposal for stricter emissions standards for cars, vans, lorries, and buses. Its goal is to achieve the new air quality standards proposed by the Commission by tackling emissions from tailpipes as well as from brakes and tyres.
The proposal replaces previously separate emission rules for cars and vans (Euro 6) and lorries and buses (Euro VI). This means that the Euro 7 standards bring emission limits for all motor vehicles under a single set of rules, regardless of whether the vehicle uses petrol, diesel, electric drivetrains or alternative fuels.
At the moment, the date for the entry into force of the new regulation is 1 July 2025 for new cars and vans, and 1 July 2027 for new lorries and buses.
However in a statement, ERS, EPHA and partners express “disappointment” with Euro 7 standards, which “give a green label to vehicles which perform no better than current Euro 6 standards”.
The low level of ambition of Euro 7 emissions “undermines the EU’s commitment” to protecting the health of Europeans, it states.
Air pollution has major health impact in Europe and causes hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths. It is the most significant environmental risk faced by Europeans and reduces the amount of time they spend living healthily.
A major contributor to air pollution in Europe is motorised road transport, which in turn places a major health, social, wellbeing and economic burden on individuals, cities, states and the wider region. This can be curbed with a strong European Union policy.
The Euro 7 Emission Standards Policy is a great chance to improve the health of those living in Europe, and to avert premature morbidity and mortality related to air pollution from road transport.
The detrimental effects of air pollution on health, social and environment are evidenced in the ERS/EPHA position statement and Euro 7 Health Impact Sheet. They include:
- Air pollution causes significant health, wellbeing, social and economic burden in Europe, and its estimated economic damage is up to EUR 853 billion annually (European Commission, 2022).
- Air pollution has widespread medical impact and has been associated with ischaemic cardiac disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma (including development of new asthma in children), infectious respiratory disease (including COVID-19), multiple cancers including lung, bladder, brain and breast, dementia, worsened mental health, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, impaired cognitive development in children, decreased fertility and increased hospital admissions and emergency presentations (Jovanovic Andersen, 2022).
- Focusing on road transport emissions is one of the most efficient ways to reduce air pollution in European cities; cars and vans are the single largest source of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, a potent gas which has significant effects on individual health and wellbeing (EEA, 2022).
In addition, the EPHA/ERS Euro 7 Health Impact Sheet details key environmental facts which outline the need for an ambitious Euro 7 Emissions Standard.
Among other key health facts, the information sheet states:
- On average in the EU, the largest contribution to nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution is from road transport, at 39%. This proportion rises to 47% in urban areas, where most Europeans live.
- Road transport is also a significant contributor to other air pollutants of concern, such as fine particulate matter (PM2.5), black carbon (BC) and carbon monoxide (CO). Each of these pollutants has a significant detrimental impact on health and wellbeing in Europe.