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on the environment

You are here: Home / Environmental topics / Urban environment

Urban environment

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Europe is a Union of cities and towns; around 75% of population of the EU have chosen urban areas as their place to live. But impacts of urbanisation extend, beyond city borders. Europeans have adopted urban lifestyles and they use city amenities such as cultural, educational or health services. More

Key facts and messages
Land uptake by urban development and transport infrastructure has been slightly faster than in the previous decade. This continues the trend of landscape fragmentation and increases other environmental impacts. Urbanisation rates vary substantially,... more
Soil is being lost due to intensive soil sealing – about 4% of Europe’s total land area is sealed and the demand for urbanisation and transport infrastructure is rising. In addition, it is estimated that around 18% of agricultural soils... more
Diffuse pollution from both agriculture and urban areas remains a major pressure on Europe’s freshwater. Cost-effective measures to tackle both sources exist and can be implemented through the river basin management plans of the Water Framework... more
For the three-quarters of Europe's population that lives in cities and towns, a good urban environment is a precondition for a good quality of life. This quality of life depends inter alia on clean air and water, efficient transport, low noise... more
Despite substantial reductions in some urban air pollutants, data for the period 1997 to 2008 show that for any given year up to 40 to 60 % of urban citizens can be exposed to concentrations of either particulate matter or ozone above the EU... more
Cities, due to the high concentration of people and activities, deliver and demand goods and services that impact their own areas and regions far away. While cities in Europe contribute 69 % of the continent's CO2 emissions, an urban resident... more
Despite some improvements, European cities and their inhabitants will still face a number of important challenges in the future. They are highly vulnerable to many impacts of climate change such as heat waves, water scarcity, flooding, and related... more
Cities can be considered as 'ecosystems', albeit with a high technical component. Their urban metabolism is an open and dynamic system, which consumes, transforms and releases materials and energy, develops and adapts to changes, and interacts... more
The urban environment is under pressure from sources both inside and outside individual urban areas, and local situations are influenced by national and European legislation as well as programmes. Therefore, a broadly integrated approach from... more
Every 10% increase in green space is associated with a reduction in diseases equivalent to an increase of five years of life expectancy. more
Modelling studies for urban temperatures over the next 70 years project that in urban areas where the green cover is reduced by 10 %, urban temperatures could increase by 8.2 °C above current levels. more
Land covered by artificial surfaces (e.g. for residential areas, industrial and commercial sites) increased by 6 258 km2 (3.4 %) from 2000-2006. more
In Europe, around 75 % of the population lives in urban areas and this is projected to increase to about 80 % by 2020. more
Cities emit 69 % of Europe's CO2. more
Urban transport accounts for 70 % of the pollutants and 40 % of the greenhouse gas emissions from European road transport. more
A city affects a large area outside its own boundaries. For example, London alone is thought to need an area of almost 300 times its geographical size to satisfy its demands and for disposal of its waste and emissions. more
Air pollutants, including fine particles and ozone precursors, can travel thousands of kilometres across the continent by air. In many cities, only a part of local air pollution is generated by the city itself. more

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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Phone: +45 3336 7100