28 medical and environmental organisations call for action on air quality

The Centre of Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) this month issued a report showing that 11,000 deaths in Europe had been avoided due to lower consumption of fossil fuels during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A reduction in car exhaust during the COVID-19 pandemic had avoided 11,000 deaths in Europe
A reduction in car exhaust during the COVID-19 pandemic had avoided 11,000 deaths in Europe

28 medical and environmental organisations have called upon the government to come up with serious measures to improve local air quality.

The Centre of Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) this month issued a report showing that 11,000 deaths in Europe had been avoided due to lower consumption of fossil fuels during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organisations said that recent studies show that on average in Malta more than 500 people die prematurely every year due to air pollution alone and Maltese citizens reported the worst exposure to pollution according to a 2017 Eurostat study.  Air pollution fell drastically during the COVID-19 outbreak restrictions in Malta and so did asthma attacks, possibly due to both decrease in air pollution and restrictive measures, said the organisations. Another local hazard is ship pollution with studies showing how a Mediterranean Emission Control Area (ECA) could prevent up to 6,000 lives annually in the region.

The organisations recommended measures “to be implemented and to persist even after the end of the pandemic.”

These included taking interlinked health hazards, such as air and noise pollution, mental health and obesity as seriously as the COVID-19 pandemic, introducing better incentives for renewable energy sources and cleaner means of transport, making green areas accessible to all members of the public, combining work and tutorship from home with conventional methods whenever possible to decrease unnecessary commuting and related emissions and building better and safer infrastructure for both pedestrians and users of bicycles and similar means of transport.

They also recommended increased investment in public transport, with better infrastructure for shared and public transportation, creating larger permanent pedestrian zones in village cores and towns, ensuring the full and timely implementation of the National Air Pollution Control Programme as well as establishing an Emission Control Area (ECA) in our seas to decrease seacraft emissions.

Finally, measures to tackle IT illiteracy in all age groups were required since both public and private services were now more dependent on digitalisation, they said.

 

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