An Environmental and Social Justice IssueThere's no choice, you have to breathe the air around you. That's why air pollution is not only an environmental issue, but also a social justice cause. Forcing people to breathe pollutants that may make them sick is wrong any way you look at it. While a lot of progress has been made in the so-called developed countries in the past half century and power plants, vehicles, and factories all have to meet much stricter rules, a lot remains to be done (and in places like China, everything remains to be done).
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has released a report that looks at the compliance of various EU countries with the EU National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive, which regulates 4 main air pollutants: sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) and ammonia (NH3). The table below shows which countries passed (a check mark) and failed (a "X") tests for each pollutant.
12 countries fail in at least one category, while a few fail in more than one. Spain gets the worst grade, with 3 failed catgories, followed by Germany with 2.
NOx concentration is the most frequently failed category (11 times), and the EEA blames the transport sector for this (diesel engines are more popular in europe, and they have higher NOx emissions than gasoline engines):
The road transport sector is one of the main contributory factors behind the large number of NOx exceedances, contributing approximately 40 % of total EU-27 NOx emissions. Reductions of NOx from this sector over the last 2 decades have not been as large as originally anticipated. This is partly because the sector has grown more than expected and partly because vehicle emission standards have not always delivered the anticipated level of NOx reductions.