In March, the Federal Senate approved Bill 3027/2022, which was the result of intense work by iCS and partners that began eight years ago. Now all that is needed is the presidential sanction to become law

Bill 3027/2022, which establishes the National Policy for Air Quality (PNQA), was approved in March by the National Congress and only awaits presidential sanction to become national law. The proposal creates the “National System for the Management of Air Quality (MonitorAr)” and establishes the definition of maximum atmospheric emission limits and their inventory as instruments for air quality; the adoption of air quality standards and their monitoring; the institution of tax incentives; and the creation of sectoral plans for the management of air quality and pollution control by emission sources, among other topics. These are measures that aim to expand the environmental preservation and ensure public health.

More than simply important news, this is a victory and can be attributed to the entire civil society. Some specific actors, however, deserve to be highlighted – after all, the approval of the Bill is the result of a continuous work that began eight years ago, and which has included participations in public hearings in both the legislative houses, the consolidation of knowledge and the development of technical studies, such as, for example, the Air Quality Platform and the study “Sizing of the Basic Network for the Monitoring of Air Quality in Brazil – Initial Scenarios,” by the Institute of Energy and Environment.

Going back to the start to draw a timeline of the main events.

Between 2016 and 2017, the Institute for Climate and Society defined, among its strategies, working on the climate agenda through the decarbonization of public transport, which culminated with the creation of the Urban Mobility portfolio, which would later change its name to Transport. In order to bring the population closer to the discussion about the decarbonization of public transport, which is a technical and complex issue, the decision was made to act on the theme of air quality and to promote the debate of the electrification of the bus fleet in Brazil.

São Paulo was the starting point. iCS identified the actors and the stakeholders who were dealing with the issue, even though they were very often dissociated from the climate agenda, and efforts began to take place. In the wake of these meetings, the partnership with the then Institute for Health and Sustainability (ISS), now the Air Institute, began to strengthen.

In 2017, when iCS and its grantees, such as Purpose, launched communication campaigns about the air quality in São Paulo, while civil society (especially ISS, ICCT, the Alana Institute and IEMA) carried out advocacy together with the Legislative Assembly of the State of São Paulo (ALESP), with the aim of approving the State Law for Clean Buses (16802/18). This established the replacement of the fleet for the municipality of São Paulo – in 2018, with the mayor João Dória sanctioning the regulation, which legislates the electrification of the buses in the capital.

The victory led to greater heights, with the beginning of national coordination in favor of the air quality agenda. At this time, iCS requested the direct support of ISS for the drafting/preparation of a Bill that would establish the National Policy for Air Quality – which became Bill 10521/18 in the Chamber of Deputies. Meanwhile, the collective action in São Paulo led to the formation of the Mobility and Climate Network.

Public Hearing

In 2019, IEMA (Institute for Energy and the Environment), ISS and ICCT (International Council on Clean Transportation) participated in a public hearing about air quality at the Urban Development Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, while the Federal Prosecution Office filed a Direct Action for the Declaration of Unconstitutionality at the Federal Supreme Court against a resolution of Conama about air quality (ADI 6148). This movement had the direct support of ISS and the Alana Institute as amicus curiae (institutions that participate in processes as friends of the court, i.e., those that support/corroborate arguments with data and studies), because the resolution indicated a policy of parameters of air quality, but did not indicate either the weather forecast or the instruments to achieve them.

Although the STF, in 2022, did not accept its unconstitutionality, it ordered Conama to define the goals. In the case of non-compliance, Brazil would automatically assume the goals of the World Health Organization. This became an important backdrop for the National Policy for Air Quality.

During the preparation of the initial text of the Bill, ISS, which led the process (with involvement from the Alana Institute and ICCT, among others), based on the coordinations and grants from iCS, also spoke with the National Confederation of Industries (CNI), to arrive at a consensus on measures and opportunities for the PNQA.

The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2020, helped in the emergence of the RespirAR Coalition, created from this network of actors from civil society, organized with the support of iCS. It launched a manifesto in defense of the resumption of the air quality agenda in the public debate. Respiratory diseases were, more than ever, in evidence, as were the effects of air pollution on people’s health. Facts such as these marked the first public hearing in the Chamber of Deputies to debate Bill 10521/18.

The warning signs for air quality debates was renewed with force, in 2021, when the National Association of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (ANFAVEA) tried to postpone the deadlines for the new phase of the Control Program of Air Pollution by Motor Vehicles (Proconve) for the adoption of cleaner technologies, set to begin in 2022. The Federal Prosecution Office denied the request.

A new public hearing about air quality was scheduled for the Environment Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, when the RespirAR Coalition was represented, with oral support, by Hélio Wicher Neto, from ISS. Later that year, the Bill was approved by the first Commission in the Chamber of Deputies.

In addition to the  judgment of the STF in relation to ADI 6148, 2022 also had another key moment: the Chamber of Deputies approved Bill 10521/18, without the proposal of the CNA (National Confederation of Agriculture) to restrict it to urban areas.

In 2023, the path was finally open for the PNQA Bill to advance in the Senate. At the same time, CONAMA updated the air quality standards, following the order of the STF in the previous year.

After a long road, the Senate approved the National Policy for Air Quality last month.

What started with public transport turned into something much larger, involving the fires in the Amazon and many other sources of air pollution. The work is only just beginning.

Context

  • Low implementation of public policies for air quality:
    • Only 13 of the 26 states of the country have any automatic air monitoring stations.
    • More than 80% of the 245 units of equipment available in the country are concentrated in the Southeast.
    • Less than half of the 49 Brazilian municipalities with more than 500,000 inhabitants have air pollutant inspection stations.
  • Lack of public investment in the monitoring of quality and other control and management instruments
  • Normative vacuum.

What does the National Policy for Air Quality introduce that is new?

  • Creation of the National System for the Management of Air Quality (MonitorAr), which will be responsible for monitoring the measurement standards established by CONAMA and for divulging national data in real time, based on state data.
  • After approval of the proposal, a survey of the pollutant emissions must be performed within 3 years by subnational entities in order to establish regional pollution parameters.
  • The federal government must prepare a consolidated national survey of the emissions within 1 year after the regional surveys.
  • Provides tax benefits and financing for capacity-building, research, technological development and management systems that reduce pollutant emissions.
  • Promotion of the implementation of programs such as Pronar, Proconve and Promot, scrap, recycling and fleet renewal programs, and vehicle inspection and maintenance.
  • Amendment allows the states and municipalities to create emission controls for mobile vehicular sources, including restrictions of circulation based on emission levels.

 

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