Not unexpected, but a disappointment for the right to air action group, which works for healthy and air. She had gathered 350 Antwerp residents to file a criminal complaint with the public prosecutor against the city and the Flemish government, which she accuses of doing too little. But the prosecutor decides to dismiss the case. There was too much doubt about the causal relationship, the prosecutor’s office ruled.
But the action group does not give up. “In 2019, our country already had 6,500 premature deaths due to air pollution,” says participant and co-initiator Tom Cox. “In Antwerp alone, a thousand people a year get asthma, and another forty Antwerp residents get lung cancer. We want to enforce the basic right to clean air, and make sure we do it differently now.”
Do you have any complaints?
That’s why they make a call. “Do you have health problems related to air pollution or do you feel the effects of air pollution in a different way? Then be sure to let us know. This can be done via our own site or via the ClientEarth site, with which we work,” said Cox.
To reinforce the action, the group will distribute ten thousand copies of their newsletter Airmail on Saturday, in which the action is also explained in more detail.
ClientEarth is a well-known international NGO that fights for a healthier environment. In our country she is known, among other things, for her opposition to the Project One of chemical company Ineos. Her field of activity is the court. For example, she already successfully protected the felling of trees that organize space.
All testimonials will be bundled in the loop of next years, later future steps can be taken. No more criminal proceedings. “What is our demand now?” said Cox. “That safer standards are established, so that citizens are not committed to the dangerous air pollution. Existing legislation is not in line with what is needed to enforce a healthy living environment.”
How will that actually work? “People who have real life impacts from air pollution will be front and center in this matter,” said client Earth attorney Irmina Kotiuk. “With their communication, we collect their stories and share them with medical experts to determine if their health problems may be linked to air pollution.”
“We feel that people are being forced to breathe air, and that this is forgotten by the Belgian calculations for the current scientific advice are limits to the recent scientific advice.”
Antwerp scores poorly
How did the organization end up in Antwerp? “Antwerp has one of the highest levels of air pollution and the first highest death rate of European cities from nitrogen oxides. We also work with local bans in Wallonia and Brussels. Air quality is a national problem that requires national problems.”