Action needed to improve urban air quality


According to a recent paper on air quality in Europe published by the European Environment Agency, around 90 percent of city dwellers around Europe are exposed to levels of air pollution that the World Health Organization (WHO) considers potentially hazardous to health.

The European Commission has been focusing on this issue for some years, and in December it presented a package of proposals for the review of air quality legislation. The European Commission wants to:

  • Redefine domestic emission limits by 2030;
  • Ratify the Göteborg Protocol, which has established emission limits for a certain types of air pollutant as of 2020;
  • Introducing new legislation on the reduction of emissions from medium-scale combustion power plants.

Europe's electricity industry welcomed the Commission's proposals, expressing its total support of more ambitious air quality policy.

The continent's major electricity companies are fully involved in reducing emissions and the Enel Group is committed to significantly cutting its own polluting emissions. Result are a testament to this commitment, with sulphur oxides down 11 percent in 2012 compared with 2009, nitrogen oxides down 10 percent and dust particles down by almost 40 percent.

There is also an increasing awareness that efforts to improve air quality in cities will be successful only through a more widespread and smarter use of electricity. The move towards sustainability across the European Union can only be sped up only by accelerating the smart development of the electricity sector and innovation in networks, home automation, lighting, air conditioning and urban transport.