ClientEarth sues Brussels for increasing toxic levels in air

air pollution law insider in
air pollution law insider in

Sameeksha Dubey

ClientEarth and five citizens of Brussels have filed a case against the government for having toxic air in the city. The launching of the case happened in September 2016 after an initial hearing in November 2017.

The reason behind filing the case was a failure in addressing illegal levels of air pollution and inadequately monitor toxic air in the city. The legal limits exceeded regularly in Brussels since 2010, but the regional government has tried to avoid its legal obligation to adopt an air quality plan by using legal technicalities.

The level of nitrogen oxide is increasing. The Court of Justice of the European Union(CJEU) was asked by the Brussels court to clarify the status of citizens whether they can take the authorities to court over the lack of adequate air quality monitoring stations.

CJEU explained the position of citizens by saying that the citizens do hold the right to challenge how authorities monitor pollution. The European Commission sent a formal notice to Belgium for failure to mention the illegal levels of pollution in 2019.

The ruling of CJEU in 2019 backed the petitioners in the fight for clean air and the decision means that the Brussels authorities should have worked on a new plan to clean up the city’s air. The case is returned to Brussels for a final judgment and the Brussels court is expected to communicate then.

This judgment is deemed to be one of the most important precedents for the European Union since the law is very clear that citizens can challenge how air pollution is measured if they think there is a problem in this regard. It was also explained that the Brussels authorities cannot hide poor quality air in some areas by using a city-wide average.

Ugo Taddei, the head of the clean air team of Brussels, said, “we are very happy with the court’s decision. Brussels citizens have the right to clean air. The Brussels authorities must now adopt an air quality plan which meets legal standards and monitors the air quality in a way that gives an accurate picture of the levels of air pollution in the city.”

Lies Craeynest, one of the claimants in the case, said: “We are delighted that court of justice confirmed today that we have known for a long time: we are entitled to take the government to the court so that they monitor the air quality properly and provide us with accurate information. The Brussels government must act to protect the people living and working.”

Another claimant – Karin DeSchepper said, “the ruling today sends a clear message not just to incoming Brussels government, but to all the authorities in Belgium, that if they do not make clean air for all a priority, then they will face the legal consequences.”

This is a landmark decision to regulate the working of government and put a limit on their actions as well as expanding the rights of the citizens to manage the air quality in the city.

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