In March 2014, Paris, France, was affected by a particulate matter episode. Private car use was highly restricted for days. On other side of the planet, a Chinese company was launching a new product: smog insurance for domestic travellers whose stay was ruined by poor air quality. So how much is clean air worth? Can economics help us reduce pollution? We take a closer look at basic economic concepts.
Every winter the gates of Copenhagen's famous Tivoli Gardens, an old-world amusement park in the city centre, open to officially mark the beginning of the extended Christmas period. This December the twinkling lights of Tivoli will most likely be outshone by COP 15 — the most important global climate change meeting ever — as thousands of diplomats, politicians, business people, environmentalists, media and climate experts from around the globe flock to the Danish capital.
'Our water is shut off once or twice a month, sometimes more,' says Baris Tekin from his apartment in Besiktas, an historic district of Istanbul, where he lives with his wife and daughter. 'We have about 50 litres of bottled water in the apartment for washing and cleaning, just in case. If the water is off for a really long time we go to my father's place or to my wife's parents,' says Baris, an economics professor at Marmara University.
Is gardening one of your interests? If so and you live in central or northern Europe, the 'killer slug' is probably one of your personal enemies. The slug, which attacks your herbs and vegetables relentlessly, seems immune to control measures.
A fisherman's tale: on the night of 6 October 1986 lobster fishermen from the small town of Gilleleje, north of Copenhagen, fishing the Kattegat Sea, found their nets crammed with Norway lobster. Many of the animals were dead or dying. About half were a strange colour.
* The characters in this story are fictional. However the data are real. The story is set on 27 July 2008 when an air quality warning was issued in Brussels.
Waste without borders: Zhang Guofu, 35, makes EUR 700 a month, a huge wage in provincial China, sifting through waste that includes shopping bags from a British supermarket chain and English-language DVDs. The truth is that waste placed in a bin in London, can quite easily end up 5 000 miles away in a recycling factory in China's Pearl River delta.
Bioenergy is not new. For millennia, people have been burning wood. The industrial revolution in the mid-1800s brought so called 'fossil fuels', mainly coal and oil, to the fore. However, fossil fuels are becoming more difficult to find and extract, more expensive, and subject to intense political debate.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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