Horizon 2020 and LIFE support to projects for cleaner air

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Smog in Sosnowiec

Air pollution is one of the most severe and complex environmental challenges impacting humans and ecosystems. The urban population, in particular, is still suffering from high levels of air pollution that is considered harmful for health according to European and World Health Organisation (WHO) standards. Effective action to reduce air pollutants requires a good understanding of causes and sources as well as the chemistry and physics of air pollutants in the atmosphere. 


Model-based scenarios are used to support coordinated and integrated policy strategies and take the right measures to address sources of pollutants and mitigate emissions effectively. Citizens engagement and awareness-raising is key in this process, as citizens are increasingly concerned about the air they breathe and claim their right for cleaner air.

Climate change and air pollution are interdependent and need to be tackled together to achieve both most effectively: a reduction of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Horizon 2020 and LIFE Programme projects provide a better knowledge base and innovative, market-oriented solutions to tackle the air quality problem from different angles.

With a Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 5 call aimed at 'Improving the air quality and reducing the carbon footprint of European cities', three air quality projects:

were funded with a total EU contribution of about 19 million EUR and 20 European cities involved. Citizens are actively engaged in the projects by participating in measurement campaigns and by shaping local strategies for emission reduction. Moreover, the projects test innovative technologies and measures, and translate scientific knowledge into scenario tools, such as apps and games, for decision-making, awareness-raising and behavioural change.

The Horizon 2020 SME Instrument provided more than 43 million EUR in grants to clean tech companies. Just to name two of them:

The LIFE programme plays an important role in supporting European air quality policy since 1992. It helps to bridge the gap between research funding and market deployment and supports projects on environmentally responsible technology, which creates actual environmental impact during implementation.

Overall, 216 projects directly targeting air quality have been funded by LIFE; these projects focus on products, processes and services, as well as on information and awareness raising, addressing air quality related issues in transport, energy, urban environment and industry. In particular two of them:

have been funded by LIFE with the EU contribution of about 20 million EUR. In addition to the budget itself, the projects will facilitate the coordinated use of 850 million and 798 million EUR of complementary funding (including other EU funding programmes such as structural funds, national and private funds) respectively.

Air quality, being a very cross-cutting issue, also benefits from impacts generated by other projects funded by the EU, for example those targeting topics such as water treatment and management, climate change mitigation, waste management, resource efficiency, green infrastructure and health.

Some of the air quality projects managed by EASME showcased their activities and results at the European Clean Air Forum, a forum that brings together decision-makers at different governmental levels.

Photo © - CLAIR-City project - City of Sosnowiec

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