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Cleaner air: Time to capture the benefits

Air pollution has a significant impact on our healthcare systems, societies, and economies. It affects people’s health and productivity and leads to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths every year (238,000 premature deaths in 2020). The challenge is real and acute: air pollution levels across Europe continuously exceed current EU standards and the World Health Organization guidelines.

While awareness about air pollution and the benefits of cleaner air is growing, the urgency for action is not always reflected in the decisions made today. For example, if short-term solutions to address the pressures on our energy and food systems lead to the expansion of coal usage, an increase in wood burning or harmful agricultural practices, European air quality could be impacted.

With the European Commission's proposal for stricter rules on air quality now up for discussion and negotiation between the EU institutions, it is time to take the challenge more seriously and to ensure the EU puts forward a credible and ambitious policy framework for achieving cleaner air. Moreover, EU, regional, and local stakeholders must be encouraged to implement air quality measures.

The EPC project on cleaner air and its co-benefits, supported by the Clean Air Fund (CAF), aims to explore how the benefits of cleaner air could be better harnessed across different policies and sectors. It will discuss the current state of play in enhancing cleaner air, the challenges to be addressed, and EU policies that support these efforts. The project comprises a workshop and background research, which will feed into a publication to be presented at a final event in mid-2023.


Air pollution / DISCUSSION PAPER
Towards a cleaner air in Europe: Time for a stronger vision and more action
By Annika Hedberg , Stefan Sipka , Simon Dekeyrel , Melanie Fessler , Danielle Brady - 06/07/2023


Associate Director and Head of the Social Europe and Well-being programme
EU politics (including The Netherlands); social policies and healthcare, the nexus between pharmaceutical policy and economic security, gender- and diversity issues and sustainability.
Head of Sustainable Prosperity for Europe and Senior Policy Analyst
Circular economy, agriculture and rural development, environmental assessment and public participation
Policy Analyst
EU health and social policies
Policy Analyst
European Green Deal, just transition, citizen engagement, climate and migration

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