There is a legal basis for citizens to seek compensation for polluted air

, News

Citizens of the European Union may be able to sue their governments and seek financial compensation if illicit levels of air pollution harm their health, according to the EU’s top justice adviser.

The opinion was issued after a series of verdicts by a court based in Luxembourg in recent years, in which ten members, including France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, were found guilty of illegal air pollution , Euractiv reports.

According to the former head of the Air Quality Department at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, meteorologist Milenko Jovanovic, air pollution in Serbia is a consequence of human activities.

“Excessive air pollution from year to year is a consequence of anthropogenic emissions (we do not have natural sources such as volcanoes and sandstorms nearby), but above all the absence (or at best inadequate) legally mandatory air quality management process by competent institutions. This practically means that the level of pollution in most cities could and must be reduced and thus reduce the number of premature deaths, which now exceed 10,000 a year , “our interlocutor emphasized on behalf of the National Environmental Association (NEA).

As he pointed out, inaction is certainly a legal violation and the absence of a reaction to legal proceedings is a tacit consent for the continuation of the disastrous process for the health of citizens, especially vulnerable categories.

“Abolishing large polluters and minimizing the factual situation is complicity in poisoning citizens, which should not be left without consequences , Jovanovic said in an interview with Biznis.rs.

He added that a solution has yet to be found for material compensations, which citizens could realistically achieve in responsible and regulated countries.

“Our judiciary did not have a practice in this segment of criminal and misdemeanor responsibility, and it is probably necessary to amend the current legal regulations.” “But that can also be done with the beginning of mass justified lawsuits, because there are more and more lawyers who are becoming experts on the consequences of environmental pollution and the health of citizens,” our interlocutor emphasized.

Pollution kills 300,000 people a year in Europe

According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), air pollution is responsible for 300,000 premature deaths in Europe each year.

“Violation of air quality limit values ​​under EU law can lead to the right to compensation from the state,” the court said in a statement.

As it was pointed out, individuals seeking compensation for impaired health must prove that air pollution is a direct cause of damage to their health, while a certain government can avoid responsibility if it proves that pollution limits would be violated and that there was an adequate air quality plan.

“This legal confirmation that there is a way for those in power to be held accountable is a great step forward in the fight for clean and healthy air,” said Clmina Earth environmental law expert Irmina Kotiuk.

It is added that the opinion of the adviser is not binding, but the EU Court of Justice usually agrees with him in the judgments that follow. In an attempt to reduce the number of premature deaths due to polluted air, the EU will propose updating its pollution limits this year, in order to better comply with stricter rules of the World Health Organization, Biznis reports.