On 10 March 2020 our IUC webinar ‘Solutions to improve urban air quality’ presented different approaches from cities in Europe and other regions of the world. Worldwide exposure to outdoor air pollution causes 4.2 million death every year, and urban populations are particularly exposed to poor air quality due to the high concentrations of varied air pollutants from different sectors and geographical origins. To successfully address air pollution in cities, there is a need to shift towards more sustainable ways to address transport, energy supply and public spaces design and management.
The webinar began with a presentation of the Joint Research Centre’s Urban Atlas 2.5 and an overview of the most common sources of air pollution for European cities. The JRC also presented the SHERPA Air Quality integrated tool, which helps to measure of air quality improvements resulting from national/regional/local emission reduction measures. The Covenant City of Grenoble Alpes Metropole presented its crosscutting approach to addressing air pollution. The French city, which aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, has set out a mobility masterplan as part of their energy transition & air quality plan to reduce emissions. Besides encouraging the use of less polluting vehicles and limiting cars’ access in cities, they have implemented a series of efforts to involve citizens and promote behavioural change. On the other hand, the city of Surat, India, is currently developing an ambitious Clean Air Action Plan. Mr Nagpure provided participants with an overview of the most emitting sectors and of the process to design targeted actions, especially concerning emissions from the waste sector and the high PM10 annual average concentrations and associated health risks. Finally, the metropolitan government of Seoul, South Korea, discussed its approach to reduce PM 2.5 and fine dust concentrations. The city has not only designed measures to reduce PM 2.5 at the source, but has also developed a set of emergency measures for seasonal fine dust control. This scheme was put in place as the outcome of discussions between the ministry of environment, experts, and a 1,000 citizens debate.
The main takeaways of the webinars were: the importance of adopting a crosscutting approach among the different policy areas; cooperation of stakeholders, citizens, organisations, and businesses working together as a main success factor especially to roll out emergency strategies; and the importance of involving other levels of governance to address cross boundary air pollution that is felt in urban areas.