This indicator monitors concentrations of PM2.5 in the richest and poorest NUTS3 regions of the EU-27. More specifically it measures the ratio ofpopulation-weighted PM2.5 concentrations of the most disadvantaged quintile compared to the ones of the least disadvantaged quintile (based on GDP per capita at purchasing power standard) at NUTS3-region level. Population-weighting is a statistical technique that assigns greater weight to the air pollution experienced where most people live. GDP: Gross Domestic Product, a basic measure of the overall size of a country's or region's economy. Per capita (Latin: "per head") indicates the average per person in a group, in this case the population of a given NUTS3 region. NUTS3 is the smallest subdivision of the NUTS classification (Nomenclature of territorial units for statistics), a hierarchical system for dividing up the economic territory of the EU. PPS: purchasing power standard, an artificial currency unit with which theoretically, one could buy the same amount of goods and services in each country. PPS is a more accurate way to compare wealth per capita than raw GDP because it reduces the effect of price differences. PM2.5, particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5μm or less.
The definitions of GDP, per capita and PPS come from the Eurostat glossary (https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained)
The indicator is formally defined as ‘PM2.5 exposure ratio between most disadvantaged and least disadvantaged quintile (GDP per capita at purchasing power standard) at NUTS3 region level’.
The indicator is calculated via the formula:
Exposure ratio = Pop. weighted PM2.5 exposure (μg/m3) MDQ/Pop.weighted PM2.5 exposure (μg/m3) LDQ
‘Pop. weighted PM2.5 exposure (μg/m3) MDQ’ is the annual average population-weighted concentration of PM2.5 in ambient air measured in micrograms per cubic meter of the most deprived (i.e. poorest) quintile of NUTS3 regions, measured based on GDP per inhabitant at purchasing power standard in euros.
‘Pop. weighted PM2.5 exposure (μg/m3) LDQ’ is the annual average population-weighted concentration of PM2.5 in ambient air measured in micrograms per cubic meter of the least deprived (i.e. richest) quintile of NUTS3 regions, measured based on GDP per inhabitant at purchasing power standard in euros.
Because the numberator and denominator of this indicator are in the same units, the resulting ratio has no units. Both parts of this ratio are easily measurable and based on readily available data. In an environmentally equal Europe, in terms of PM2.5, this ratio would be close to 1. If the poorer regions were more polluted than the richer regions, the ratio would be greater than 1; a ratio of lower than 1 would indicate the opposite.
This indicator will provide an objective and comparable estimate over time of the inequalities in PM2.5 exposure (and thus of associated health risks) between the poorest and the richest regions in Europe.
This indicator is a proxy headline indicator on environmental inequalities for monitoring progress towards the 8th Environment Action Programme (8th EAP), (EU, 2022). It contributes mainly to monitoring aspects of the 8th EAP Article 2.1 that requires ‘by 2050 at the latest, people live well, within the planetary boundaries in a well-being economy where nothing is wasted, growth is regenerative, climate neutrality in the Union has been achieved and inequalities have been significantly reduced… .’. It further contributes to monitoring aspects of the Article 3.f which requires ‘ensuring that social inequalities resulting from climate- and environmental-related impacts and policies are minimised and that measures taken to protect the environment and climate are carried out in a socially fair and inclusive way’. The European Commission Communication on the 8th EAP monitoring framework specifies that this indicator should monitor whether the EU ‘reduces environmental inequalities and ensures a fair transition’, (EC, 2022).
EU, 2022, Decision (EU) 2022/591 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 April 2022 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2030, OJL 114, 12.4.2022, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32022D0591 accessed October 24, 2022
EC, 2022, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the monitoring framework for the 8th Environment Action Programme: Measuring progress towards the attainment of the Programme’s 2030 and 2050 priority objectives, COM/2022/357 final, EUR-Lex - 52022DC0357 - EN - EUR-Lex (europa.eu), accessed October 24, 2022
GDP per capita at NUTS3 level is an imperfect measure of economic deprivation, but it is a fair proxy that is published regularly and is easy to understand for most audiences. The assessment of population weighted concentrations also has uncertainties inherent to the estimation, though those are known and limited. The trend analyses for this indicator is performed via linear regression and a T test for the significance of slope value. The indicator showed from 2007 to 2020 a small but statistically significant (p<0.05) upward linear slope of 0.02. However, with such a small value and a standard error of around 0.01, this trend cannot be assessed as significantly different from stable.