Teresa Ribera calls for efficient solutions to improve air quality in Europe without delay

Teresa Ribera

Teresa Ribera, has opened the Third European Union Clean Air Forum, the leading meeting on air quality at an EU level.

Madrid –The Vice-President and Minister of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, has opened the Third European Union Clean Air Forum together with the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans. This meeting, which is being held at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid on 18 and 19 November, is the leading forum on air quality at an EU level.

“We have to go beyond the standards we have been applying so far, because air quality continues to be the element that causes the most cardiorespiratory diseases and premature deaths,” said the vice-president during the opening of the conference, indicating that “efficient solutions to improve the quality of the air Europeans breathe already exist and are widely available. We must act without delay.

The first EU Clean Air Forum was held in Paris in 2017 and the second in Bratislava in 2019. This third Forum focuses on the relationship between air quality and health, the right to clean air and the review of EU air quality legislation. The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, the European Commissioner for the Environment, Virginijus Sinkevicius, and the writer Antonio Muñoz Molina, among others, will take part in the two-day conference.

One of society’s main concerns
Air quality is one of society’s primary environmental concerns: air pollution causes serious chronic diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular problems and lung cancer. According to recent estimates by the European Environment Agency, more than 300,000 people died prematurely in Europe in 2019 as a result of fine particulate air pollution.

Common rules on air quality and air pollution ensure that citizens enjoy a minimum level of air quality everywhere in the EU and create a level playing field for industry across the Union. In this regard, Vice-President Ribera said that “actions at the European level are decisive”.

The WHO has just presented its new air quality guidelines, which set much more demanding objectives than those contained in the current regulatory framework and which will serve as an incentive to continue working to improve air quality.

National actions
Improving air quality is one of the commitments of the Government of Spain. For this reason, initiatives have been developed such as the first National Air Pollution Control Programme, which includes 57 measures to achieve the commitments established for Spain in the National Emission Ceilings Directive for 2030, including measures to reduce ozone precursors, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs).

In addition, a Framework Plan for short-term action in the event of high pollution episodes for particulates smaller than 10 microns (PM10), particulates smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) has been promoted.

Since September 2020, the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge has made the National Air Quality Index (AQI) available to the public through its website, which allows the public to check in real time and in a simple way the air quality of the measuring stations of the national monitoring network. The AQI also includes health recommendations and provides information on the evolution of air quality in recent months.

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