Every day we breathe in about 11.000 liters of air. Besides the essential oxygen, a lot of dangerous pollutants end up in our lungs. In particular nitrogen dioxides (NO2) and particulate matter (PM) constitute serious danger to people’s health. Moreover, individual pollutants such as diesel soot as a component of PM also contribute to climate change.
Therefore reducing air pollution is a contribution to health and climate protection ? and in the end cleaner air means better quality of life. Coordinated by the German VCD nine non-governmental organizations (NGOs) now take action for clean air in Europe and started the campaign »Clean Air«.
Watch our animated short film to find out more about how we can improve air quality in European cities and what measures the Clean Air project partners take to achieve this goal:
Four years ago the European Commission summarized five previous acts on air pollution policies to the European Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC (AQD). The AQD is an attempt to improve the efficiency of individual laws and to achieve more clarity and simplification of the regulations and legal requirements. The overall goal is an improved implementation of air quality policies by EU member states. The directive combines provisions for assessing and monitoring air quality by means of limit values for several different pollutants such as particulate matters (PM10), nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, airborne lead, benzene, carbon monoxide and ozone. Provisions for agreements on the exchange of information and data from networks and individual stations measuring air pollution within member states have also been included.
In their thematic strategy on air pollution the EU even states that it is their aim to achieve an air quality that ”causes no significant adverse effects to human health or the environment and thus no corresponding danger”.
By integrating the AQD into national law the EU member states clearly committed themselves to those goals. And, even more important, every European citizen has the right to breathe clean air, as the European Court of Justice established in its judgments.
Despite the existing legislative framework and the citizens’ right to clean air, continuing violations of air pollution limits remain a problem and threaten health, environment and climate. With the contribution of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union nine NGOs now take action in the project »Clean Air« to contribute to improved implementation of the AQD on a regional and local level. Taking part in the project are as different associations as
»Clean Air« started in September 2012 and over the next three years all partners will realize several activities to address target groups such as local and regional administrations, transportation companies or European citizens.
»Clean Air« follows the idea of strengthening best-practice cases of air quality control and transferring knowledge to stakeholders. As the key issue is the insufficient implementation, distributing relevant information, available technologies and best-practice should be a promising approach to improve air quality in Europe.