Experts from across Spain meet in Valencia to call for improvements to people’s health by tackling urban pollution

  • Today, representatives from the Spanish government, the Valencia Regional Government, the Council of the capital of Turia, the Naturgy Foundation and the UIMP took part in the opening ceremony of the ‘Technical scientific bases to improve air quality in Spain’ technology forum.
  • Every year, the Valencia Regional Government assigns €700,000 to the maintenance of the Atmospheric Pollution Surveillance and Control Network of Valencia.

This afternoon, representatives from the Spanish government, the Valencia Regional Government, the Council of the capital of Turia, the Naturgy Foundation and the UIMP took part in the opening ceremony of the ‘Technical scientific bases to improve air quality in Spain’ technology forum. Thirty experts will hold meetings in Valencia until Thursday to address the different perspective of atmospheric pollution, which affects nine in ten people living in cities, according to the WHO.

Maj Britt Larka, Deputy General Director of Air Quality and Industrial Environment in the Ministry for the Ecological Transition (MITECO), said: “The quality of the air we inhale is a cause for concern for the responsible authorities, especially in densely populated areas. The WHO considers air pollution to be a main cause of premature death and illness across the world, highlighted by the significant increase in cases of respiratory, cardiovascular and immunological illnesses.” Furthermore, he stressed: “We should apply all necessary efforts, at all levels, in order to achieve our ambitious target of improving our air quality.”

 To this end, the MITECO has created the National Programme of Atmospheric Pollution Control with the aim of reducing emissions of the main pollutants:  sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC), ammonia (NH3) and fine particles (PM2.5), in two phases, for 2020 and 2030. This programme has already been submitted to the public participation process and information to interested parties. The claims received are currently being analysed.

€700,000 every year to control the environmental pollution in the region of Valencia

The Regional Government of Valencia was represented at the opening ceremony by Joan Piquer Huerga, Director General of Climate Change and Environmental Quality, who stated: “When speaking about air quality it is common to focus on more measurements of pollutants, but it is important not to forget that the objective of measuring is to obtain quality data to then adopt measures that avoid or limit the emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere as much as possible, therefore achieving cleaner air.”

“Ozone pollution, nitrogen dioxide and particles have a significant effect on health,” stated Piquer, which means that events such as these “are very helpful in making decisions on the environmental policies that improve air quality.” Piquer also explained: “Every year the Regional Government assigns €700,000 to the maintenance of the Atmospheric Pollution Surveillance and Control Network of Valencia to renew measuring equipment, incorporate new control stations and carry out additional measuring campaigns in different towns around the region of Valencia in order to resolve specific problems.”

The Managing Director of the Naturgy Foundation, María Eugenia Coronado, stressed: “There is no single solution to reduce emissions of gas pollutants in cities, so we must analyse and study the best measures to implement in each city, bearing in mind the social and intrinsic aspects of each urban setting, the most sustainable alternative technology and fuel for each use and the relationship between the cost, benefit and implementation period for each measure against the results.”

“With events such as these, the Naturgy Foundation wants to promote this analysis and study in order to contribute to the search for solutions and also raise the public’s awareness of the need to improve air quality,” said Coronado.

Meanwhile, Agustín Domingo Moratalla, Director of the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo in Valencia, highlighted the role of academic institutions in the challenges faced by society, including the challenge addressed during these events in Valencia. Moratalla said: “The urgency of sustainability in all areas of knowledge and research cannot remain in laboratories or science magazines. There needs to be a reform led collectively by public administrations and civil society.” Moratalla continues: “Universities play a key role because without their work broadcasting, transferring and disseminating, the civil society, public opinion and the media in general would not have access to technical work or academic research.”

Giuseppe Grezzi, councillor of Sustainable Mobility and Public Space in the Valencia Council, noted that despite the difficulties administrations often encounter when adopting specific measures to put an end to pollution, Valencia has made significant progress by creating the Metropolitan Transport Authority of Valencia to coordinate everything regarding transport. He also referred to a suitable funding system for the transformations required to improve air quality, with the aim of addressing the challenge of protecting a universal right such as people’s health.

30 experts and three days of discussion

The ‘Technical scientific bases to improve air quality in Spain’ technology forum takes place in Valencia from today until Thursday through the Naturgy Foundation, the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP), the Regional Government of Valencia and the Institute for Environmental Diagnosis and Water Studies at CSIC (IDAEA-CSIC). Thirty experts will discuss how to tackle urban pollution to preserve people’s health.

Air pollution represents a significant environmental risk to people’s health, and reduced levels of air pollution can also lead to a direct reduction of cerebrovascular deaths, lung cancer and chronic and acute lung diseases. This is according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), who state that only one in ten people live in a city that meets the guideline air quality parameters.

There are several proposals for trying to reduce urban pollution, depending on the features of each city. Governments, companies and the science community are making progress in adopting measures, but the causes, measures and actions required for tackling this problem affecting our cities must be analysed further. That is why this specialised national forum is important.

The aim of these events is to analyse the current causes of low air quality in our cities and the negative effects on human health. Experts across Spain will discuss the current situation and will share the plans for improvement and action proposals they are developing. The scheduled talks will also cover how to make progress in creating emission inventories, and specific issues such as the ozone and the burning of biomass.

The Naturgy Foundation and its mission to raise environmental awareness

These events are part of the training activities that the Naturgy Foundation is carrying out in different Spanish cities about issues relating to energy and the environment. The main goal of the serious and in-depth discussion is to promote the rational use of energy resources and foster sustainable development.

Set up by the power company in 1992, the Naturgy Foundation is also engaged in social action programmes both nationally and further afield, by influencing particular initiatives aimed at alleviating energy vulnerability.

Scope and subject: Naturgy FoundationSpain

Valencia, 11 June 2019

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