Malta has topped the list of EU countries whose population has reported being exposed to pollution, figures released by Eurostat on Thursday show. 

Eurostat said on its website that Malta recorded “by far the highest share of its population reporting that they had been exposed to pollution, grime or other environmental problem”. 

The EU average in 2017 stood at around 14%. 

By contrast, over a quarter of Maltese (26.5%) complained about being exposed to pollution and other environmental problems. 

The next highest share of people complaining about pollution exposure were in Germany at 24.5% and Greece at 20.3%. 

Rates of exposure to pollution, grime or other environmental problems were also above the EU average in Luxembourg, Latvia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania.

At the other end of the scale, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Croatia recorded some of the lowest exposure rates to pollution. 

Those looking for a breath of fresh air best head to Ireland, where only 5.3% of respondents reported exposure to pollution, the lowest rate in the EU. 

Between 2007 and 2017, self-reported exposure to pollution, grime and environmental problems in the EU decreased from 17.1% to 14.1%. 

The government has been facing a growing backlash about pollution and environmental degradation. 

On Saturday, protestors will take to the streets to express their anger about the lack of long-term planning for the environment. 

Ahead of the protest, NGOs have demanded that policies designed to safeguard the interests of the few rather than the public wellbeing and environmental protection.

They have also called for a moratorium on all large-scale projects, as they are having a “devastating” impact on people’s quality of life due to added traffic congestion, pollution and noise. 

The government has pledged to study how to phase out cars powered by petrol and diesel. 

A 2018 European Commission report on the Paris Climate Agreement warned that Malta was the only EU country having to buy emission credits from other member states as it continued to come way short of reduction targets.

The report attributed the missed targets to road pollution caused by cars and increased hydrofluorocarbon emissions from the rising demand for air-conditioning.

It encouraged Malta to set targets and implement measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 2025.

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