Clean air policy – the general

approach and public outreach

The Netherlands focuses current efforts on meeting EU air quality standards through the National Air Quality Cooperation Programme and the Environmental Planning Act. In addition, a national Clean Air Agreement was adopted and signed on 13 January 2020. With the national Clean Air Agreement human health, as the important effect of air pollution has become the focus next to meeting the European limit values. The agreement translates the new Dutch ambitions on air quality into further actions for each sector. The aim of this agreement is to permanently improve air quality in the Netherlands and achieving a health gain of 50% in 2030 compared to 2016 from exposure to emissions from Dutch sources. During the dialogue, the Dutch ministry in charge of coordinating the Clean Air Agreement informed about the planned implementation of the agreement. It was stressed that cooperation between all levels – local and regional authorities, the national government and the EU – would be a key to success for this endeavour. Health indicators are developed and used to ensure the focus is on the most relevant areas / air pollution sources.

Regional cooperation, financial support from the national government and sharing knowledge and experience between municipalities are to facilitate participants in reaching the targets. Additional ways to take down this barrier are considered. The importance of involving all societal actors for progress of the clean air agenda was highlighted during the Clean Air Dialogue. The specific role of business and the private sector was also emphasised as an opportunity to explore further, e.g. in thematic partnerships or joint information campaigns. The discussions also covered the importance of involving citizens, showing how and why they could contribute by changes in their every-day lives.

Citizen science projects and the use of low-cost sensors to provide easy access to air quality data while also raising awareness was mentioned as a good example for further roll-out. Involving and engaging schools and young people was proposed as a best practice applied in many EU Member States, to spread the message widely. Finally, on citizen involvement, it was proposed that routes to facilitate a bottom-up approach might be needed, to make it easier for citizens to voice their concerns and ideas regarding their local air quality and health situation and ways to improve.

Finally, there was a call for more exchange of best practices with other Member States and between cities and regions within and outside of the Netherlands. The Commission provided information about existing schemes for peer-to-peer exchanges.

Mr. Virginijus Sinkevičius

European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries

Ms. Stientje van Veldhoven

State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management