Brussels partners with Bloomberg Philanthropies on Clean Air Initiative

20th October 2020 Christopher Carey

A new initiative aimed at tackling air pollution in Europe’s capital has been launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Brussels-Capital Region Government and its sustainability arm, Brussels Environment.

The Brussels Clean Air Partnership will bring together government, universities, local research centres and NGOs to deliver a science-based, coordinated approach to curb air pollution throughout the Brussels-Capital Region using low-cost technologies to monitor air pollution and fill in data gaps on ground-level local pollution data.

Alain Maron, Brussels Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Energy, said: “Today, people living in Brussels are exposed to unacceptable levels of air pollution. Protecting the health of our citizens and taking transformative actions to make our city greener must be our priority. To do this, we will need everyone.

“By bringing together this large coalition of stakeholders around the same objective, Brussels now has a crucial advantage to successfully undertake the transition to a low-carbon society.”

Green Deal

The Partnership has been formed partly in response to the European Green Deal – the EU’s bloc-wide goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and a 50-55 percent cut in emissions by 2030 (when compared with 1990 levels).

Local universities and organisations, including Hasselt University, the University of Antwerp, the International Council on Clean Transportation, the BRAL and Les Chercheurs d’Air ,will implement projects on the ground, and data collected by the partnership will be made available to the public.

Air pollution claims an estimated 9,000 lives every year in Belgium, and over 400,000 premature deaths in Europe annually, according to the latest European Environment Agency (EEA) report.

In June 2019, The EU’s top court ruled that Brussels could no longer rely on its past practice of averaging air pollution measures across the city –something environmental groups said glossed over the scale of pollution at key sites, such as the EU district. Client Earth, the environmental law NGO which took the case against the city, said air data submitted by the Brussels authorities for 2018 was “shamefully misleading” in that it did not include key locations where air quality reached “illegal and harmful levels”.

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