Beijing currently shows, where there is no process for cleaning air, the air runs out
Now, nine NGOs are working on the »Clean Air« project to protect this precious resource.
The bleak pictures from the Chinese capital in the last days of January clearly show what happens when measures to protect air quality standards continuously are not implemented. Good air means good quality of life. Every person breathes in around 15,000 litres of air per day.
Although the air quality in Europe is better than that in China, much remains to be done to ensure that a situation such as that we must currently watch in China never happens here. As well as oxygen, our air contains a lot of nitrogen oxide and fine particulate matter that make people sick. That's why nine European NGOs are now acting in concert on a new project called »Clean Air«. They are mainly focussing on transportation and want to show how air quality can successfully be improved.
This is a good moment politically for the objectives of the »Clean Air« project. The EU Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potoçnik has declared 2013 to be »the year of air«. Now he has to prove that he is willing to push for the proper implementation of existing laws — such as ensuring that countries comply with the limits on damaging materials in air. The continuing violations of the limits, and the resulting damage caused by emissions, fine particulates and soot, threaten both the climate and public health. The fact is: even if particulates and nitrogen oxide are not visible to the naked eye, it is estimated that in 2010 alone, over 420,000 people died prematurely as a result of air pollution. Soot particles, a component of the fine particulates, are also the second largest driver of global warming, after CO2.
With the financial support of the European Commissions's LIFE+ programme, non-governmental organisations from five member states have come together to push for better implementation of the EU air quality policies on regional and local levels. The project, coordinated by the German "Ecological Transport Club" (VCD), also includes "German Umwelthilfe" (DUH), the "Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union" (NABU) and "Friends of the Earth Germany" (BUND), the Austian transportation club "VCÖ — Mobility with a Future", the European umbrella organisation "Transport & Environment" (T&E), the "Danish Ecocouncil", the Hungarian "Clean Air Action Group" (CAAG) and the Slovakian "Centre for Sustainable Alternatives" (CEPTA).
Project »Clean Air« started at the same time as the »year of air«. Over the next three years, the partners will direct their efforts at many different parties involved in air protection, such as local and regional government offices, transportation companies and the general public. The project will spread examples of best practices and provide forums where experts, decision makers and representatives of civil society can come together to share ideas, experiences and expertise. We need clean cars, buses and ships and the right air purity and transportation policies — so that everyone can breathe freely.