In anticipation of the Green Week 2013, which will take place in Brussels between the 4th and 7th of June, scientists and stakeholders gathered earlier this week to discuss ways to expand research and strengthen the Air Quality Directive.
The event entitled „Frontline Research for Improved Air Quality and Climate Action” was initiated by the the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) and held in Brussels. The aim of the meeting was to find solutions to the problem of poor air quality in major European cities.
Although research on aerosols and clouds is already extensively funded by many European programmes and contributes to shaping European air policies, air pollution still presents a major threat to human health. Greenhouse gas emissions and air quality standards within the EU are still being exceeded by some members of the EU, and changes in the current system are more than necessary if targets are to be met.
Scientists urge that the Ambient Air Quality Directive, which is there to control the concentration of fine particles in the atmosphere, has to be reviewed. Clear target values should be set so that the strategies can be clearly defined.
Leading researchers in the field of air quality are certain that more research should be conducted. Based on previous work, professors from across Europe outlined key pollutants, such as ozone and benzo(a)pyrene that have to be controlled more strictly, especially in urban areas.
The most important field, which needs more research and detailed knowledge, is the one of aerosol particles, since these are of a vital importance. In currently existing climate models, the role of these particles and the clouds are not yet fully incorporated mainly because they are poorly understood.
Scientists should join forces in international projects, to make strategies, create networks, develop tools and build infrastructures, in order to combat the problem together. Although such initiatives are already in motion, and many infrastructures are already either built or under construction, the efforts should definitely not stop there.