The chair of the EUROCITIES Environment Forum and deputy mayor of Porto, Filipe Araujo, took part in the second EU Clean Air Forum in Bratislava in November, presenting the views and actions of European cities and stressing the need for multi-level cooperation on air pollution.
The Clean Air Forum brought together decision-makers, stakeholders and experts to focus on topics such as air quality and health, energy, agriculture and clean air funding mechanisms and to reflect on the development and implementation of effective European, national and local air policies, projects and programmes.
Mr Araujo took part in the two-day event's panel discussion on the future of clean air policies and the direction they should take in the next five years.
The discussion was introduced by the state secretary of Finland, Terhi Lehtonen, who highlighted the work of the Finnish presidency as well as many actions implemented by Finnish cities to address air pollution. One of those mentioned was EUROCITIES member Helsinki which is implementing an urban innovative action project to collect real time data on local air quality, coupling this with microfinancing community action and individual behavioural change measures.
The panel discussion between Mr Araujo, Daniel Calleja Crespo, director-general for environment of the European Commission, and Gabriel Csicsai, state secretary of the Slovak Ministry of Agriculture, looked at the challenges ahead to improve air quality. They also addressed the need to mainstream EU, national and local policies in light of the findings of the fitness check of the Ambient Air Quality Directives, published on 27 November.
Mr Araujo stressed that action is needed to strengthen policy coherence across all government levels, in climate, energy and transport, tackling all kinds of pollution. "Air pollution is a very transversal problem and transboundary in nature," he said. "It is not a matter of what cities can do by themselves, but a matter of working with the European Commission and with national governments to take action on climate, on transport, on agriculture and other pollution sources in a coordinated way."
Mr Araujo also highlighted how cities are leading by example, decarbonising their energy systems, changing their car fleets to electric vehicles, investing in nature-based solutions and retrofitting buses. "Cities have been doing a lot about clean air and understand that everything is connected. When talking as local leaders about energy, adaptation to climate change or other measures, air quality aspects are always very important." Recalling 'diesel gate', he reiterated the importance of ensuring enforcement of EU regulations, such as type approval for vehicles and real driving emissions testing.
Read more on the fitness check of the Ambient Air Quality Directives here: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/quality/aqd_fitness_check_en.htm
Find out about EUROCITIES statement on the fitness check of Ambient Air Quality Directives here: http://wsdomino.eurocities.eu/eurocities/documents/EUROCITIES-statement-on-the-ambient-air-quality-directives-fitness-check-WSPO-B2CRJG
Read more about Porto's local action on clean air here.
Photo credit: @halime_sarrag