Poor air quality can have serious impacts on our health and the environment. How is Europe’s air quality? What are the main sources of air pollutants? How do they affect our health and the environment? What does Europe do to improve air quality? The new edition of the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) Signals takes a closer look.
Austria, Germany and Belgium recycled the largest proportion of municipal waste in Europe in 2010. Although some countries have rapidly increased recycling rates, Europe is still wasting vast quantities of valuable resources by sending them to landfill, and many countries risk falling short of legally binding recycling targets.
Air pollutant emissions were above legal limits in eight Member States in 2011, preliminary data shows. In 2010, 12 Member States exceeded these limits, according to final official data reported under the European Union’s National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive.
Increased flooding is likely to be one of the most serious effects from climate change in Europe over coming decades. Some of the conditions which may contribute to urban flooding are highlighted in an Eye on Earth map from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Ozone pollution still exceeded target levels in Europe during summer 2012, but the number of exceedances of the alert threshold was lower than in any year since monitoring started in 1997. However, almost all EU Member States failed to keep levels of the pollutant within targets set to protect human health.
Air is a tricky subject to photograph, but this challenge has proved to be a source of inspiration for the winners of photo storycompetition ‘ImaginAIR’, organised by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
A city park in Berlin has won the European Soundscape Award for its innovative design which cuts traffic noise and creates a more attractive acoustic environment. The prize, presented at a ceremony in London by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Noise Abatement Society (NAS), is intended to raise awareness of the health impacts of noise and recognise initiatives that help create more tranquil environments.
Almost a third of Europe's city dwellers are exposed to excessive concentrations of airborne particulate matter (PM), one of the most important pollutants in terms of harm to human health as it penetrates sensitive parts of the respiratory system. The EU has made progress over the past decades to reduce the air pollutants which cause acidification, but a new report published today by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that many parts of Europe have persistent problems with outdoor concentrations of PM and ground level ozone.
Imagine a city with clean air and little noise. A place free of congestion, where getting around town is easy. To move towards this goal, cities need to develop sustainable and efficient urban transport systems which integrate all modes of transport both in the cities and in their surrounding areas. Citizens can help by making the right choices.
Climate change will affect Europe's cities in different ways. To give an overall impression of the challenge for European cities to adapt to climate change, the European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a series of detailed interactive maps, allowing users to explore data from more than 500 cities across Europe.
The city of Copenhagen in Denmark has won the European Green Capital Award for 2014, fending off strong competition from two other finalists, Bristol in England and Frankfurt in Germany. Fourteen cities entered the competition, of which three finalist cities presented their vision, action plans and communication strategies to the jury earlier this month.
Around three quarters of Europeans live in cities. Most of Europe's wealth is generated in cities, and urban areas are particularly at risk due to climate change. Europe should seize the opportunity of improving quality of life while adapting to climate change in cities, according to a report from the European Environment Agency (EEA). The report also warns that delaying adaptation will be much more costly in the long-term.
Do you know someone who is doing something to create a healthy soundscape in your working environment, neighbourhood or municipality—implementing innovative solutions to noise problems or creating quiet green areas where the sounds of birds and bees can be enjoyed? If so, encourage them to apply for the European Soundscape Award 2012 which is open for submission from 25 April, the International Noise Awareness Day.
Ground level ozone causes health problems, decreases crop yields and damages the environment. Ozone levels exceeding certain targets in Europe were less frequent in summer 2011 than in any year since monitoring started in 1997. However, the long-term objective was exceeded in all EU Member States and it is likely many of them will not meet the target value, applicable as of 2010.
Emissions of many pollutants from transport fell in 2009. But this reduction may only be a temporary effect of the economic downturn, according to the latest annual report on transport emissions from the European Environment Agency (EEA). The Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM) explores the environmental impact of transport. For the first time, the report considers a comprehensive set of quantitative targets proposed by the European Commission’s 2011 roadmap on transport.
Air quality in Europe has improved between 1990 and 2009, as emissions of most pollutants have fallen, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA). But there is still a lot of room for improvement, as many EU countries are expected to exceed the emissions ceilings in 2010 for at least one pollutant. In addition, concentration levels of ground-level ozone and particulate matter have remained stable over recent years despite efforts to improve air quality.
Roads, motorways, railways, intensive agriculture and urban developments are breaking up Europe’s landscapes into ever-smaller pieces, with potentially devastating consequences for flora and fauna across the continent, according to a new joint report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). The report, 'Landscape fragmentation in Europe', demonstrates how areas of land are often unable to support high levels of biodiversity when they are split into smaller and smaller parcels.
Emissions of almost all main air pollutants fell across the EU-27 in 2009, according to the latest annual European Union air pollutant emission inventory report compiled by the European Environment Agency (EEA). Some pollutants decreased significantly compared to the previous year, with analysis showing economic recession to be an important factor in this reduction. The drop was most evident for sulphur oxides (SOx), with emissions falling by 21 % between 2008 and 2009.
A series of maps on water quality, updated with the latest information reported by countries, has been published by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The maps display water quality parameters in various receiving waters across Europe, alongside information on urban wastewater treatment and receiving areas sensitive to eutrophication.
The bees living on the roof of the European Environment Agency (EEA) received some special guests today, when European Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik and Danish Environment Minister Karen Ellemann visited their hives. The two policy makers joined EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade in harvesting the first batch of honey.
How green is your city? That’s the question being asked by the European Green Capital Award (EGCA), which is now searching for an exemplary city for 2014. The competition was launched by the European Commission on 14 June.
Our demand for water and wastewater discharges, often have a substantial impact on the quality and quantity of freshwater resources. On World Water Day, 22 March, the European Environment Agency (EEA) and partners presented a new and improved version of the web portal Water Information System for Europe (WISE).
Widespread and increasing use of motor vehicles in urban areas impacts not only human health but also the quality of life in cities. During European Mobility Week, 16–22 September, more than 1 500 cities across Europe will promote sustainable transport in urban areas and let their residents enjoy a car-free day. The European Environment Agency has tips to help you make your daily trips more environmentally friendly.
From the depths of oceans to the highest summits, from icy waters to baking deserts, life flourishes in every corner of our planet. On 22 May, World Biodiversity Day, the European Environment Agency shows how by mimicking nature we can redesign our cities to enhance green space and biodiversity.
How densely populated is your city? Where are the green areas and transport networks? The European Environment Agency (EEA) now hosts detailed maps and land cover information for the 117 European cities currently included in the new 'Urban Atlas'.
With 2010 now quickly approaching, updated emission estimates for that year show just 14 Member States expect to meet their respective 2010 air pollutant limits set under the EU National Emission Ceilings Directive (NEC Directive). A small group of Member States anticipates missing two or more of their legally-binding emission ceilings.
Every day, millions of Europeans make short trips to work, school or the shops. Their choice of how to reach their destination has a significant impact on the environment. During European Mobility Week from 16 to 22 September 2009, Europe will focus on sustainable mobility in urban areas. The European Environment Agency has tips to help you make your daily trips more environmentally friendly.
The European Community's air pollutant emission inventory report released by the European Environment Agency finds that in 2007, sulphur oxides (SOx) emissions were down by 72 % from 1990 levels. The downward emission trend of three main pollutants which cause ground-level ozone continued in 2007: carbon monoxide (CO) fell by 57 %, non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) were down by 47 % and nitrogen oxides (NOx) have dropped 36 %. EU-27 emissions of all four pollutants were lower in 2007 than in 2006.
Ground-level ozone is among the most harmful air pollutants in Europe today. Elevated ozone levels cause health problems, premature deaths, reduced agricultural crop yields, damage to plants in semi-natural ecosystems and corrosion of physical infrastructure and cultural heritage.
The EEA report 'Diverting waste from landfill' finds that the EU Landfill Directive has been a positive force in altering management of biodegradable municipal waste in the EU. The study explains how setting medium- and long-term targets for reducing landfilling has helped countries to define waste strategies and target investments.
Particulate matter and ground-level ozone remain important air pollutants in Europe. Despite improvements due to EU legislation, they continue to have a heavy toll on human health especially in southern and eastern Europe. Two reports released today by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shed light on Europe’s air quality.
Stockholm and Hamburg have been named as the European Green Capitals for 2010 and 2011, respectively, in recognition of their consistent records of high environmental standards and strong commitment to further improvement. The European Environment Agency took part in the evaluation panel and the final jury.
Urban areas are spreading, minimising the time and distances between and in-and-out of cities. The International Planning Congress in Dalian, China, addressed this ‘urban sprawl’ and sought ways to achieve sustainable urbanisation. The European Environment Agency contributed to this debate by urging policy makers to tackle underpinning consumption patterns.
Transport remains a major and growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change. During the European Mobility Week between 16-22 September, more than a thousand cities across Europe will promote sustainable transport in urban areas and let their residents enjoy a car-free day.
A report launched today by the European Environment Agency shows that road transport remains the single main source of nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), and the second-most important source of fine particulate emissions (PM10 and PM2.5) in the EU-27. This report contains essential data that helps understand the evolution of air pollutant emissions since 1990.
How clean is the air in your city? Is the local transport environmentally friendly? What about noise pollution and the state of the green areas? Four out of five Europeans now live in cities and the environment in urban areas is directly linked to our quality of life.
A joint UNEP-EEA study of environmental issues in the countries of South-East Europe (SEE), Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia (EECCA) — now also available in Russian — shows that the region is facing many challenges in the wake of economic growth. The report identifies several opportunities to 'leapfrog' and avoid some of the environmental problems experienced in western Europe.
This week is the European Mobility Week and the staff of the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen is looking at ways to reduce the number of missions, and to do the daily commuting in an environmentally friendly way. A recent survey among staff showed that 53 % of them walk or cycle to get to work and many others walk or cycle in combination with public transport. None of the staff members responding to the survey use only their car for daily commuting, and merely 10 % use their car in combination with public transport.
The new European Topic Centre for Land Use and Spatial Information (ETC/LUSI) was inaugurated today at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. The European Environment Agency's Executive Director, Prof. Jacqueline McGlade, joined the Spanish Minister of the Environment, Cristina Narbona, and dignitaries from both Catalonia and Andalucia for the event. ETC/LUSI is an international consortium assisting the European Environment Agency in its mission to deliver information on the state and trends of the European environment to policy-makers and the general public. The consortium will also work with Spanish authorities and organisations, helping to reflect pan-European developments at regional and national level.
Recent analyses by the EEA show that land is becoming a scarce resource: 800 000 ha of Europe's land cover was converted to artificial surfaces from 1990-2000. Only with careful spatial planning of urban and rural development can Europe avoid compromising its agricultural production, biodiversity, energy security and Kyoto targets and aspirations under the Lisbon agenda.