One month after the NCD Alliance published a brief about 'Clean Air Now; rapid solutions to the air pollution emergency' the municipalities, provinces and the central government of the Netherlands signed the Clean Air Agreement on 13 January 2020.
In the explanatory brief of the Clean Air Agreement the Dutch Minister for the Environment and Housing emphasised the health benefits for everyone. In the preface she states that 'clean air is of vital importance, for everyone. Even though air has become much cleaner in recent decades, air pollution is still a major health risk in our country. On average, in the Netherlands we live nine months shorter due to air pollution. And in one in five children with asthma, the disease is related to air pollution.'
According to the Minister, the aim of the agreement is to permanently improve air quality in the Netherlands. 'With our approach to domestic sources, we aim for a health gain of at least 50 percent in 2030 compared to 2016. That means that people live longer, healthier and with higher quality.' In all sectors, from shipping to freight and passenger transport, from industry to agriculture, central government and municipalities start initiatives and actions for cleaner air in consultation with companies and citizens.
The proposed measures are feasible and affordable - this is very much in line with the policy brief of the NCD Alliance in which it is emphasised that reducing air pollution at its source has a rapid and substantial positive impact on individuals and public health. I'm glad I could support the NCD Alliance with transforming the focused review by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), into their joint brief. Equally, I'm glad the Dutch government took these steps to signing the Clean Air Agreement. However, as the Minister already indicates: 'In short, there is work to be done.'