The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will hear a ClientEarth clean air lawsuit against Brussels’ regional government today.
ClientEarth, an environmental law firm, will represent five Brussels residents in a case asserting that authorities in Brussels have not taken sufficient action to combat air pollution. The ClientEarth clean air lawsuit claimants say the air quality in Belgium’s capital city is below that specified by European regulations; and that pollution in the city is harmful to its residents as well as the environment.
The ClientEarth clean air lawsuit was first heard by the Court of First Instance in Brussels in November 2017, but the judge in the case decided to request further guidance from the CJEU on the methods authorities should use to measure the city’s compliance with air pollution limits before announcing a final decision. Brussels authorities were warned by the Court of First Instance that the city’s current air quality guidelines fell well below EU requirements.
Ugo Taddei, one of the lawyers presenting the ClientEarth clean air lawsuit, said: “The hearing will be a key moment in our battle to defend the rights of Brussels’ citizens, as the CJEU will clarify the remaining questions the national court needs to reach a judgment. Meanwhile, the pressure is building for the Brussels government to take ambitious strides to address the city’s air quality crisis. If it is serious about protecting the health of its citizens, then it should act on the recent data that show that the current measures have been ineffective and insufficient to tackle this issue. The Brussels government should act now and adopt a real air quality plan that meets EU requirements. The longer they delay, the greater the harm to the health of everyone living and working in Brussels.”
In addition to clarifying how authorities can best gauge air quality, the ClientEarth clean air lawsuit will see the CJEU issue opinions on whether Brussels’ levels of air pollution are in breach of regulations; whether citizens are legally able to challenge authorities’ failure to monitor air quality; and whether a Belgian national court can compel monitoring stations to be implemented in particularly polluted areas of Brussels.