Cities aim to reduce car use in bid to eradicate air pollution

(EurActiv, 30 May 2022) European cities are putting measures in place to reduce toxic emissions from vehicles in a bid to improve air quality and save lives.

Scores of European city-dwellers’ have died prematurely as a result of poor air quality, studies show. The European Environment Agency (EEA) estimates that some 307,000 people in Europe died prematurely from exposure to fine particulate matter in 2019 alone.

The EEA has branded air pollution “the biggest environmental health risk in Europe”. The list of diseases inflamed by chronic exposure to air pollution includes respiratory issues, lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

Most deaths from poor air quality are centered in cities, where residents tend to live alongside dense traffic.

The urban dimension of these health problems puts local governments on the front lines. While air quality standards are agreed in Brussels and national parliaments, it is generally up to public authorities to enact them.

Ensuring that citizens breathe clean air is vital to maintaining cities as attractive places to live, according to Thomas Lymes, a policy advisor with the city network EUROCITIES.

Cutting air pollution is “a matter of social justice for public authorities because people that are most affected by air pollution are households with low income that essentially live next to big urban roads and major transport corridors,” he told EURACTIV.

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EurActiv, 30 May 2022: Cities aim to reduce car use in bid to eradicate air pollution