Addressing air quality needs urgent solutions
Eco-innovation forum in Sofia discussed how to tackle pollution via clean technologies
9 February, 2018
Each year, 400,000 people die in Europe because of poor air quality. Much progress has been made over the past decades to reduce air pollution across Europe, but more needs to be done as poor air quality remains the number one environmental cause of premature deaths in the EU, and the economic costs of air pollution amount to well over €20bn a year.
The European Commission is committed to addressing air quality and reducing air pollution to levels that do not pose risks to human health and the environment. However, tackling air pollution is a complex and systemic challenge that requires concerted action across societal actors and economic sectors.
“Air quality is quality of life. Air does not recognise state borders or working hours. That is why I want us to think about the tasks of today's forum as an urgent matter,” the Bulgarian Minister of Environment and Water Neno Dimov said at the opening of the 21st European Eco-innovation Forum on Air Quality held on 5 and 6 January in Sofia. “Usually we take a strategic approach and plan on a long-term basis when it comes to the environment, but for the health of 500 million Europeans this is not enough and we have to act,” Dimov told the participants in the event which brings together politicians, diplomats, experts and scientists from the EU, the Western Balkans, the Eastern Partnership, and the Black Sea region.
Efforts undertaken by governments, cities and businesses to implement the Ambient Air Quality Directives can still be greatly boosted by the use of new innovative solutions like advanced technologies for household heating, implementation of strategic urban mobility plans, or pioneering ways to reduce pollution from farming practices, the Commission states.
To support this we need to continue to stimulate eco-innovation in this area so that more accessible, applicable and cost effective products, services and models are created, tested and widely deployed in European countries.
Resources from EU funds are foreseen to focus on introducing eco-innovation in the field of renewable energy sources and fuel systems for vehicles, solutions directly related to air quality.
“The EU wants to set more ambitious targets for CO2 emissions for vehicles, as well as to pay attention to transport infrastructure and encourage electrification. We want to work for smart mobility. However, we cannot succeed without cooperation between the government, the citizens and the business in the direction of implementing the innovative solutions. These solutions are already a fact, they must be adopted and implemented in Europe,” said the Director of DG Environment of the European Commission, Daniel Calleja Crespo, in his speech to the forum.
In a video address to the participants in the forum, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Carmen Vela said: We all have to work together at all levels to provide cleaner air to citizens.
Prior to the forum, Minister Dimov and Mr Kayeha visited an exhibition presenting innovative technologies related to air cleanliness as part of the forum.