EEA underlines the link between climate change battle and air quality improvement

  • Updated3 July 2006
  • News

The EU Thematic Strategy on air pollution aims to improve European air pollution significantly by 2020. The European Environment Agency (EEA) has analysed improvement prospects for a further ten year period, also integrating climate change instruments as an intervening variable.

In a report published on June 1st, the Agency stresses the positive side-effect of climate change policies on the effectiveness of existing air pollution abatement. Whereas these measures are supposed to produce cleaner air in 2030 compared to 2000, the situation is expected to decline after 2020, thus causing 311 000 premature death each year in 2030 in a reference scenario.

This scenario can be attenuated, if not avoided, by EU efforts to meet meeting its long-term EU climate change objectives consisting in limiting to the global mean temperature increase to 2°C above current levels.

The so-called climate action scenario would have major impacts on pollutants emissions such as oxides of nitrogen (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and particles. This scenario would lead to a decrease of premature deaths due to ozone and fine particles by over 20 000 per year by 2030 and would save €16-46 billion per year in health costs.

Such benefits would be more significant in 2030 than in 2020, the report notes, since a longer period of time would be available for implementing long term measures.