pollutionAll this week, Debating Europe will be running a themed week looking at green issues in Europe. We will be focusing particularly on air quality, climate change and CO2 emissions, and taking YOUR questions and comments on the environment to European politicians for them to answer.

The year 2013 is, according to the European Commission, the official European Year of Citizens. Apparently, though, it is also the official Year of Air. Could cash-strapped Europe save money by combining the two? The new year could be called either the year of a “Breath of Fresh Air from Citizens” or, if you’re feeling slightly less charitable, the “European Year of Hot Air”.

Anyway, isn’t air pollution more of a problem in the developing world? Research published last year in the Lancet suggests that two-thirds of the 3.2 million premature deaths caused by air pollution in 2010 were in Asia, where air quality is steadily decreasing as factories pump out smog, traffic jams clog the roads and the dust from construction projects fills the air. Conversely, the World Health Organization reports that Europe (in the grips of an economic crisis) has some of the cleanest air in the world. What’s the problem?

Well, Europe as a whole may have high air quality standards, but there are still huge problems in major cities like Turin, Seville, Paris, Dresden and London. If you, or someone you know, suffer from asthma or breathing difficulties, you will already know that an attack can sometimes be triggered by heavy smog or bad air pollution. As more parts of the world industrialise, and as people move from the countryside into cities, air pollution globally is becoming a real concern. Urban air pollution can cause cardiopulmonary diseases, lung cancer and respiratory infections, and the young and elderly are particularly vulnerable.


On Thursday, 6 June 2013 at 11:30 CET, we will  be liveblogging a special student-led debate in Brussels on the topic of air quality in Europe, with Bas Eickhout MEP, Dr Gary Haq, Senior Research Associate at the Stockholm Environment Institute and Ulf Bjornholm from the Air Quality & Noise Unit of the Directorate-General for Environment, European Commission.

What do YOU think? What is the air quality like where YOU live? Do you think air quality in the EU is the best in the world, or is there more that can be done? And is air pollution a problem in Europe? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

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10 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Daniel Madruga

    The main problem with air quality is caused by motorised vehicles.
    I live in Portugal so the CO2 emissions caused by the industry are being reduced since the economical crisis hit us and since our industry is mainly dominated by de house sector most of our factories have lowered productivity, therefore reducing emissions and gas and oil consumption.
    I don’t think air quality in Porto,Coimbra or Lisbon are bad nor the best in the world. A good policy to follow would be in my opinion, to obligate new buldings to have a minimum of grass or another type of plant that dosn’t require too much maintenance. Such as in the roof instead of using Tiles. Another policy that I think should be applied it’s to invest in clean energies in every home, and allow that home to consume all of it’s podution. Easing the Countries investment in clean energies. Although the best Measure Would be creating a new, environmentally friendly, oil.

  2. avatar
    Eric David Bosne

    There are clear benefits from better air quality. For example I was born in Paris and live there till my 7th year, then when I moved to Portugal I had clear respiratory health improvements. Although a healthy adult (the decision maker) might be less sensitive to this changes, but for kids it is terrible.
    An other example is that some years ago we could find lots of fireflies and butterflies in Portugal, now month can pass without seeing one.

  3. avatar
    Edgaras Katinas

    I am currently residing in Vilnius (the capital city of Lithuania), previously I lived in Birmingham (UK) and Paris (France). The air quality is rather good; however, the pollution levels are still high. Of course, it would be irrational to compare major metropolitan areas, namely London, Paris and the others with Vilnius, as it would seen very green and clean; however, the problem just grows while digging deeper.
    In my opinion, the EU should work more on green politics in order to lower the pollution levels as nowadays pollution becomes one of the major issues, causing deadly diseases. There should be some more harsh restrictions for the EU member states regarding pollution and environment. What happens in the world with all natural disasters, huge temperature variations, imbalanced seasons should be seen as a wake-up call for the strict sanctions against environmental degradation. I am speaking about the EU member states, as they sometimes seem to be as some kind of idol-states for the non-member countries.
    Obviously, Europe looks all clean in comparison with some Asian states, but, in my opinion, Europeans should not stop and see themselves as the leaders, but carry on with the policies, which would make the continent even cleaner, healthier, and nicer to live in.
    There should undoubtedly be more green initiatives, youth projects target to green initiatives, and of course some prevention made. The EU should target the policies to educate people and show the negative impact of pollution. Obviously there are plenty of various sources about environmental pollution, but do they work? I reckon that the governments lack enthusiasm and/or initiative to start tackling the problem. Nowadays, by the majority the environmental problems are seen as impossible to solve, or too big to be solved by one individual, that is why a small number of individuals dedicate (by recycling, by using bikes or walking to work, by not wasting drinking-water, etc…) themselves to try to solve them.

  4. avatar
    Alex Merkin

    If you see how densely populated Europe is you would understand how that is impossible.

  5. avatar

    I would say the air quality in Canada was better than in Europe . (The EU is a political entity not a country or region)

    It may be because they have more trees than people . As a student in the 60’s the big green protest was saving the rain forests , plant more trees ect. That program failed so the green lobby moved on to the fossil fuel , carbon emission and renewable energy agenda. All this has done is make Europe’s energy bill soar

    Trees eat Carbon , creating forests is the best gift we can give to future generations .

  6. avatar
    Paul X

    Why is the EU always being so inward looking?

    Many people in favor of more EU integration claim we need to be together to be a force on the world stage, well let the EU politicians put their (actually our) money where their mouth is. They need to be getting the major polluters in the world to act not just worry about local air quality. Air pollution knows no borders so its pointless just going on about Europe it needs global action and if the EU wants to be taken seriously as a global force it needs to prove it

  7. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    A qualidade do ar em Portugal é otima o meu pais é rico no clima e com grandes areas para o cultivo boa qualidade de água um pais rico em biodiversidade o grande problema deste pais é os politicos porque nunca desenvolveram politicas verdadeiras do ambiente e do patrimônio da agricultura e das pescas

  8. avatar
    Shaan kumar

    Hey friends!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Do something to save the world from pollution

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