Although poor air quality can be a problem everywhere, the negative effects are most distinctly felt in urban areas: our cities are generally hotspots for air pollution. Almost three quarters of the EU’s population live in urban areas and economic activities are to a large extent concentrated in or close to urban areas. This results in general in a significant amount of locally emitted air pollution, which adds to the background concentration, originating from national and international sources.
Air quality is a common problem to almost all major cities. In more than 130 cities across Europe – and in 23 out of 28 Member States – the EU air quality standards are being exceeded. The most important air pollutants for urban areas are particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide and 3 out of 10 EU citizens are exposed to particulate matter concentrations above the EU limit value. And 9 out of 10 EU citizens are exposed to concentrations of particulate matter above the stricter World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.
The main sources of local air pollution in urban areas are transport and the use of coal or wood for residential heating. Local actions for improving air quality hence have to focus on those topics. To help cities to improve their air quality, the EU provides information about the air quality situation as well as potential solutions that can be implemented. With this information cities should be able to come up with strategies to tackle air quality problems that show synergies with one or more of the other urban challenges they face.
>> This session will focus on the urban related issues such as traffic and local heating. Panelists will offer views from different angles and will give opinions on the most pressing problems as well as the solutions they expect to be most successful. 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