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Pollution is a major cause of disease and premature death, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services and it is one of the drivers of climate change. Recognising that the impacts of pollutants, be they chemicals, particles, litter, noise, light etc., are intimately connected to their environmental occurrence, the Zero Pollution Action Plan commits to reducing them to levels no longer considered harmful to humans and nature by 2050.

Among the sources of pollution, air pollution remains an issue in many world regions, including Europe. Improving air quality is a complex process which involves acquiring a thorough understanding of what is causing air pollution, what can be done about it, and a prioritisation of measures to reduce air pollution. The JRC supports policy coordination on air quality, assesses the coherence between the air quality directive and other ''Zero Pollution''-related initiatives (including impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems), improve tools to better support air quality multi-level governance, and standardise and harmonise air quality measurement and modelling methods.

The Clean Air and Climate Unit of the Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC) aims at providing integrated analysis in support of EU air quality and climate policies, evaluating the emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants on European and global scales, measuring and modelling atmospheric components of relevance for human health, and how they interact with ecosystems and climate. We play a strong role in the harmonisation of monitoring and modelling techniques across Europe. Finally, we participate in integrated assessments to support the development of air quality and climate policies that ensure the maximum benefit from the resources that are invested in creating a better environment.

Main publications:

Urban PM2.5 Atlas, 2023
Reference to be inserted when publication data become available

Urban NO2 Atlas , 2019
Degraeuwe, B., Pisoni, E., Peduzzi, E., De Meij, A., Monforti-Ferrario, F., Bodis, K., Mascherpa, A., Astorga-Llorens, M., Thunis, P. and Vignati, E.

Zero Pollution Outlook, 2022
European Commission, J.R.C., EUR 31248 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2022, ISBN
978-92-76-57574-0, doi:10.2760/39491, JRC129655.

Recommendations for the revision of the ambient air quality directives (AAQDs) regarding modelling applications, 2022
Thunis, P., Janssen, S., Wesseling, J., Piersanti, A., Pirovano, G., Tarrason, L., Martin, F., Lopez-Aparicio, S., Bessagnet, B., Guevara, M., Monteiro, A., Clappier, A., Pisoni, E., Guerreiro, C. and Gonzalez-Ortiz, A.

Status of environment and climate in the Western Balkans, 2022
Belis, C., Djatkov, D., Lettieri, T., Jones, A., Wojda, P., Banja, M., Muntean, M.,
Paunovic, M., Niegowska, M.Z., Marinov, D., Poznanović, G., Pozzoli, L., Dobricic, S., Zdruli, P. and Vandyck, T.,

Do environmental factors such as weather conditions and air pollution influence COVID-19 outbreaks, 2020
Dobricic, S., Pisoni, E., Pozzoli, L., Van Dingenen, R., Lettieri, T., Wilson, J. and Vignati, E.

CO2 emissions of all world countries, 2022
Crippa, M., Guizzardi, D., Banja, M., Solazzo, E., Muntean, M., Schaaf, E., Pagani, F.,
Monforti-Ferrario, F., Olivier, J., Quadrelli, R., Risquez Martin, A., Taghavi-Moharamli, P.,
Grassi, G., Rossi, S., Jacome Felix Oom, D., Branco, A., San-Miguel-Ayanz, J. and Vignati, E.

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The European Environment Agency (EEA) is an agency of the European Union that delivers knowledge and data to support Europe's environment and climate goals. Our core tasks are supporting policy development and key global processes, offering analytical expertise, and providing and maintaining an efficient reporting infrastructure for national and international data flows. In collaboration with our partner network, Eionet, we inform decision-makers and the public about the state of Europe’s environment, climate change and wider sustainability issues.

We help policy makers to assess the progress towards the targets set by the European Commission under the Zero pollution action plan, summarized in the EEA Zero pollution monitoring assessment report. For our European citizens, we provide information on several environmental stressors such as air pollution, noise, climate or water in the European environment and health atlas, where you can check your place to see how environmentally healthy your surroundings are.

When it comes to air pollution, we also collect information on emissions of air pollutants into the atmosphere and on the ambient concentrations of those pollutants from the European monitoring network and modelling applications. Once quality checked, this information is made available to policy-makers, experts and public in the form of data, indicators, assessments and knowledge.

You can find lots more information on our air quality products through our website; for example, be informed on the concentrations around your living or working address by checking our air quality viewers; understand how the air pollution impacts on your health and our ecosystems by consulting our briefings; know the current situation and how to act to protect yourself via the European air quality index; compare the situation in your city with other European cities at the European city air quality viewer; or see how unequally air pollution is impacting on citizens.

Please also find more information in these videos about EEA, Zero Pollution and air quality.

And discuss more about these environmental issues with our experts:

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The LIFE Programme is the European Union's primary funding instrument dedicated to advancing environmental sustainability and addressing the pressing challenges of climate change. Since its inception in 1992, LIFE has been an impactful tool contributing to the transition towards a clean, circular, energy efficient, climate-neutral, and climate-resilient economy. It has a versatile portfolio with over 6000 projects receiving co-financing.

At its core, the LIFE Programme aims to innovate and promote techniques to achieve EU environmental goals, improve governance, and facilitate adoption of successful solutions by enhancing investment and financial accessibility.

The LIFE Programme for the period 2021-2027 has a total financial allocation of approximately EUR 5.43 billion and is structured into four distinct sub-programmes:

  • 1. Nature and Biodiversity preserves Europe's natural heritage by funding projects relating to biodiversity conservation, habitat restoration, and Natura 2000 management, which are all in line with EU directives and the biodiversity strategy outlined in the EU Green Deal.

  • 2. Circular Economy and Quality of Life advances sustainability by financing circular economy projects. These include waste resource recovery, environmental quality improvements, and responsible chemical management. The sub-programme supports innovative solutions through Standard Action Projects (SAP) and EU environmental policy implementation via Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs).

  • 3. Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation promotes a sustainable energy-efficient, renewable energy-based, climate-neutral, and resilient economy. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions, implements EU climate policies, and enhances resilience through projects in various sectors, such as agriculture, infrastructure, and water management.

  • 4. Clean Energy Transition aids EU energy policy goals like those outlined in the European Green Deal. It supports the shift to sustainable energy by addressing market barriers, engaging with various stakeholders, and accelerating technology adoption in energy efficiency and related fields.

Aligned with the recently updated EU Ambient Air Quality Directives and the European Green Deal, the LIFE Programme provides financial support for projects that tackle air pollution and that manage and monitor the implementation of air-related policies. This contribution is approximately EUR 10 million for the current period 2021-2027.

During the former Call years 2014-2021, the LIFE Programme has funded 43 projects directly addressing Air Quality as a priority. Furthermore, considering the crosscutting character of the air topic, all in all, 135 projects are expected to generate impacts in terms of air quality improvement.

Reference projects offer a variety of integrated-sector specific solutions that span across the four sub-programmes. These solutions may range from integrated recycling plans to reduce agricultural emissions to more holistic approaches, such as the development of innovative solutions to reduce Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions in the printing industry. In line with the objectives of the Green Deal, LIFE projects also propose bottom-up approaches, such as facilitating the dissemination of information from NGOs and administrations, through to the Commission, to inform European legislations on clean air.

At the Clean Energy Forum 2023, the LIFE Programme will be represented by two projects from the Netherlands:

LIFE CLINSH is dedicated to enhancing urban air quality by implementing emission-reducing technologies and alternative fuels within the Inland Waterway transport sector. Through practical testing, this project has provided valuable insights into the effectiveness and operational costs of these innovations, contributing significantly to the pursuit of cleaner urban environments.

LIFE-CMCD has a long-term goal to advance sustainability within the dairy farming industry. The project focuses on reducing ammonia emissions and establishing circular farming practices. Key to its success is the innovative Lely Sphere system, which combines various technologies, including a modified barn floor, a manure robot and an air extraction unit that converts ammonia from manure into circular fertiliser.

To learn more about specific projects and the LIFE Programme, please visit the LIFE Public Database and subscribe to the LIFE Programme’s newsletter.

Main publications:

LIFE and air quality, 2014

LIFE and air quality - Publications Office of the EU (europa.eu)

CLINSH Sustainable waterway transport, clean air – Layman's report

LIFE-CMCD, Lely Sphere – Layman's report