Best Practice in European Cities

Foto: ©Stephanie Hofschläger / PIXELIO Foto: ©Stephanie Hofschlaeger / PIXELIO

Air pollution causes nearly half a million premature deaths each year in the European Union. Air quality is usually at its worst in busy cities, with high concentrations of particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone. Air pollution not only damages human health but also affects our natural environment by causing acidification and eutrophication. When deposited on snow and ice, soot, or black carbon (a part of PM10), emitted largely by diesel cars, contributes to global warming by reducing the amount of sunlight reflected back into space. The ambient air quality directive (2008/50/EC) demands that local authorities comply with short-term and annual limit values of PM10 and NO2.

Municipalities apply a broad range of measures to reduce air pollution and to comply with these air quality limit values. Some measures are rather technical, some are economic incentives and others promote sustainable transport. A good measure for one city is not necessarily appropriate for another city: each has to select the measures they feel match their problem the best. There is intense exchange between cities, NGOs and other stakeholders on lessons learned, problems, and opportunities on various measures. In order to facilitate this exchange, BUND has devised a series of best-practice guidelines that demonstrate different local solutions for reducing air pollution. Their dissemination promotes a further uptake of these measures.