ClairCity newsletter ClairCity newsletter January 2019 - Page 3

Public awareness of air pollution Increasing public awareness and understanding of air pollution is a key element of ClairCity Understanding the debate Our engagement with the public has given the team a deeper insight into the common misunderstandings and misconceptions about air quality and carbon emissions amongst the public. While there are some opinions that are strongly held in specific locations, we have found key facts that are often missing from public understanding across our pilot areas. Health impacts Firstly, the health impacts of air pollution. When people understand the significant health problems that air pollution is causing, they are much more interested in knowing more about it and thinking about how to solve it. For most people, “air pollution” sounds like a bad thing. However, the fact that air pollution has significant effects on the heart as well as the lungs has not been common knowledge in our pilot regions. The impact that air pollution has on unborn babies and young children made a major impact on many audiences, inspiring an increased desire to take action. Sources and causes Secondly, people don’t understand the sources of air pollution in their city and the significance of traffic and home heating compared to industry. Many people understandably relate the amount of air pollution a vehicle causes to its size, without realising the significant difference between petrol and diesel. The fact that larger engines have stricter regulations is counter-intuitive, so we have focused messaging around diesel car or scooter driving in particular. Coal and wood burning for heat is common practice in Poland, and less common but becoming fashionable in the UK. In both countries, there is a lack of awareness of the local health impacts this causes. Air pollution solutions Finally, we found that people frequently learnt about the problem, became concerned, but then felt helpless in the face of an issue caused by everyday behaviour that seems difficult to change. In the ClairCity materials we bring a focus on solutions, showing how many different ways there are to tackle the issue and that the decision is a matter of choice for each area. To respond to these issues, we have worked with graphic designers to identify key messages that the general public can understand. The graphics are available in our partner languages, and are designed to be shared by project partners and ordinary citizens. To download the graphics, visit www.claircity.eu/get-involved/resources-and-downloads Environmental law in the EU How has the European Union changed the air we breathe? As part of EU Green Week 2019, projects, cities and citizens across Europe are reflecting on the impact of EU environmental legislation on their lives. The first major legislative action on air quality from the European Union was in 1996, when the Air Quality Framework Directive and associated directives were introduced. These set standards for a range of pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter (PM10) and ozone. PM2.5 was included in 2008 under the Ambient Air Quality Directive, which still provides the framework for EU air quality work more than a decade later. 3 Under these rules, governments across Europe must monitor and report air quality levels across their territories - both to the Commission and their own citizens. Where levels are exceeding the limit value agreed at EU level, national governments can be taken to court and fined for breaching the directive. For more information, visit http://ec.europa.eu/ environment/air/quality