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Air pollution leads to serious problems for both human health and the environment. Increased energy and industrial production, the burning of fossil fuels and biomass, as well as the dramatic increase in road traffic are contributing to air pollution, which is the main environmental cause of premature deaths in Europe.

The global progress in the industry and manufacturing, technology and transportation are mankind’s achievements that make life easier in today’s world. But at the same time, all this has a significant negative effect on air pollution and climate change, in particular global warming. Anthropogenic activities are the main causes of polluted air and increased concentrations of atmospheric pollutants, such as PM, NOx, SO2, VOC, CO, etc and GHGs.

 It is estimated that in the European Union alone, air pollution causes more than 400 000 premature deaths per year. This is one of the reasons why the EU Green Deal sets the goal for the zero-pollution for air, water and soil.

Development of air protection

Since 1970s, the European Union has been developing and adopting appropriate measures to improve air quality. The main objectives of this EU policy relate primarily to the transport and energy sectors with the aim of controlling and reducing emissions from mobile and stationary sources, improving fuel quality and promoting and integrating requirements for air and environmental protection in general. Since then, there have been several interlinked European Directives setting standards for a number of air pollutants, which were consolidated in 2008 into a single Directive on ambient air quality, adopted as Cleaner Air for Europe 2008/50/EC.

In 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed, followed by the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. The purpose of these conventions / agreements is to limit and reduce the production of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, in particular to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Following these goals, Europe aims to be the world’s first climate-neutral continent getting there with ambitious measures under the European Green Deal. The main objective of the Green Deal for Europe is to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 with presenting an impact assessment plan to set a higher target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to at least 50 % by 2030 and towards 55 % compared to the 1990 levels.

 In the course of this year, the European Commission will adopt the action plan „Zero pollution action plan: Towards a Zero Pollution Ambition for air, water and soil to build a Healthier Planet for Healthier People“. This plan aims to provide a better environment for all Europeans by including the zero pollution ambition into all policy developments, providing better prevention and remedy pollution from air, water, soil and consumer products pollution, strengthens the links between environmental protection, sustainable development and human well-being and continue in further separation of economic growth from the increase of pollution.

The aim of the EU zero air, water and soil pollution action plan, in terms of better air quality, is to provide emission reduction activities through pollution monitoring and reporting and better prevention and remediation of air pollution.

Although air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions are managed as two different branches and are regulated through different directives, agreements and plans, they are still topics that are dedicated to the issue of air pollution. We all breathe the same air!

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Katerina Maneva Mitrovikj

Katerina Maneva Mitrovikj

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