Reduction of air pollution is needed to improve the quality of life of our citizens as well as the state of the environment. And it also makes perfect economic sense. The external costs of air pollution in the EU are estimated to be between € 330 billion and € 940 billion, between 3 and 9% of the EU’s GDP, each year. Direct financial loss due to the 121 million lost workdays is estimated to be around € 15 billion. Furthermore, poor air quality in the EU causes healthcare costs (€ 4 billion), crop yield loss (€ 3 billion) and damage to buildings (€ 1 billion).
The Ambient Air Quality Directives (Directives 2008/50/EC and 2004/107/EC) oblige Member States to make sure concentrations of air pollutants become and remain below critical levels. The Directive on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants (Directive 2016/2284/EU), which came into force in December 2016, obliges Member States to further reduce the total emissions of several pollutants. These directives require action by all Member States.
Within this framework, it is up to the Member States to decide what actions will be undertaken to improve the air quality. There already is a variety of proven actions that can be taken to reduce the emission of air pollution, such as cleaner transport modes, the use of clean energy, increased energy efficiency, cleaning of flue gasses from industry, reducing ammonia emissions via proper manure management or the use of more efficient fertilizers etc. And by innovation a lot more possibilities can be created. The need to take action thus creates business opportunities, while on the same time reduce the societal costs as described above.
To support the work on clean air, the Commission has the possibility to give financial support within the framework of Structural Funds, Horizon 2020 and LIFE. Air quality has been the third biggest focus of the LIFE programme in terms of funding (be- hind water and waste). Since 1992, thousands of projects across Europe have directly sought to improve air quality, with many more having an indirect impact on the air we breathe as a co-benefit of their core actions.
>> This session will showcase success stories in terms of clean-tech solutions being deployed to the benefit of clean air by means of EU funding support. The session will focus on three main areas: (1) clean transport, (2) agriculture, and (3) energy solutions. The audience will be able to interact with the panel.
The Commission has published a draft of the first Clean Air Outlook here. It will be finalised after the Forum and taking into account its discussions