The EU criticizes Denmark for not complying with air quality legislation

by Marina Starodubtseva and Martin Choi

The greenest city in the world still needs to work on its air pollution problem.

Denmark has always been known as an environmental leader within European countries. Two years ago Copenhagen was ranked the greenest city in the world, according to the recent edition of the Global Green Economy Index (GGEI). Despite their progress in forging a greener economy, the problem of air pollution in Copenhagen has remained unresolved for years.

The EU has accused Denmark of not complying with air quality legislations. In a “formal notice” EU Commission chastised Denmark for not solving the air pollution problems in Copenhagen.

“It’s not the worst city,” said Iben Stanhardt, the press officer of the European Environmental Agency. “Air quality and air pollution is a transboundary issue. We have different types of pollution in Denmark: one comes from industrial facilities and other diffused sources like cars; and then there is the case where it comes completely across the Baltic sea. And some of the pollution actually travels from China. It’s not on a continental basis, it’s global. You have to look at these things as a global phenomenon.

“If you are surrounded by mountains, air doesn’t travel so much in different seasons. That’s why we really need to comply with every little article in the legislation.”