Introduction to the TAB project

The central concern of the TAB project is air pollution, a complex phenomena that impacts on human health at the local level but may be caused far away from where the main effects are manifested. Additionally, it can be aggravated by the effects of climate change, particularly severe weather events.

Polluted air contains particles in suspension like PM10, and potentially dangerous gases like O3 and NOx, the 3 main sources being vehicle exhaust, industrial activities and winter heating, all of them mainly burning fossil fuel. Particulate matters can contribute to the development of various disorders which become manifest through respiratory complaints and a reduced capacity for healthy life. In turn, this undermines the competitiveness of a city/region by deterring the settlement of people and enterprises in the affected areas. Thus, air pollution impacts home environments, workplaces and health care systems at different levels, spatially and temporally.

WHO (World Health Organization) European Region has identified air pollution as a major problem, particularly in Central and Eastern parts. Currently in these regions, processes of transition and convergence emphasise economic growth to generate employment and wealth. Nevertheless, the negative impacts of old industries with their more pollution-intensive technologies still persist. WHO argues that a wide part of the impact of air pollution is preventable, but will require an integrated package of measures including improved planning and management, new legislation and communication with the general public.

Thus, there is a pressing need for innovative approaches to the twin challenges of promoting sustainable economic development and environmental protection.

Objectives

As the core problem the project intends to address is the high degree of air pollution linked to vehicle exhaust, industrial activities and winter heating, the specific objectives of TAB can be summarised as follow:

  • reduce the adverse effects of air pollution originating from these main sources on the health and quality of life of citizens in the partner cities and regions, and reduce the level of pollution;
  • limit the ways by which the effects of climate change may exacerbate air pollution through the incidence of extreme weather events

TAB Approach

TAB partner cities/regions share a strong industrial character with large human populations. They suffer from three main types of air pollution sources (industry, traffic and household heating) and ambient levels of particulates that sometime exceed thresholds defined by european and national regulations (chiefly PM, NOx, CO2, SO2, O3). A key impact is the increasing burden of air pollution on the environment and human populations. The TAB project intend to respond directly to the concerns of reducing air pollution and its harmful effects at the local level by analysing and sharing experiences at the transnational level.

TAB considers that the effective mitigation at the local/regional levels requires a package of integrated actions to be mediated on a transnational scale to facilitate the sharing of experience on a scale proportionate to the distribution of air pollution (regional level) and to coordinate the development and implementation of the planned actions (local level).

The specific objectives of the project will be achieved through:

  • Collection of comparative environmental data in Virtual Observatory to understand the nature and extent of air pollution and its interactions with climate;
  • Wide consultation with stakeholders (local government, industry, health sector, interest groups and communities) to formulate responses into Adaptation Action Plans containing a set of integrated tools and actions, aiming at reducing and ultimately mitigating air pollution effects at local/regional levels.

Tools and measures have to be implemented and tested under the coordination of different sectors including local government, industry, health and local communities. TAB will connect partners through the network established by the project to facilitate effective communication and cooperation around the shared concern of improving air quality at the transnational level. The set of actions designed to work towards the specific objectives can be summarised as to:

  • develop a monitoring system to inform decision-making on air-pollution and its interaction with climate change;
  • involve different interest groups in identifying ways to reduce the impacts of air-pollution originating from different sources;
  • prepare and apply tools and actions for health risk assessment and management;
  • improve urban planning to reduce effects of air pollution on citizens;
  • influence policies and legislation at the local and regional levels to promote sustainability through the implementation of the adaptation action plans;
  • identify European funding opportunities for investments to reduce the effects of air pollution;
  • raise awareness of civic society, industry and government of the problems of air pollution.

The TAB method will support innovation and creativity to prepare such Plans aiming to improve air quality in ways that

  • Maximise positive environmental impact while minimising negative effects on economic activity and regional development.
  • Foster integrated economic and social development
  • Promote competitiveness by raising the attractiveness of involved cities and regions.

Main project outputs will be integrated into the Central European Healthy Environment Platform (CO3) and HEPs, targeting project partners and external stakeholders to sustain and multiply core TAB outputs throughout Europe.