Air pollution is the world’s largest environmental health risk. Ambient and indoor air pollution result in strokes, heart diseases, lung cancer, acute and chronic respiratory diseases. Some air pollutants, such as black carbon, methane and ground-level ozone, are also short-lived climate pollutants. Reducing air pollution would save lives and help slow the pace of climate change. Air pollution is very often of a transboundary nature and needs collective action.
In the war zones, air pollution from military vehicles and weaponry has adversely affected public health. The Russian army is targeting Ukraine's cities and infrastructure. The use of explosive weapons creates pollution from building materials including asbestos, metals, and combustion products.
On the occasion of the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, the European Union-funded programme “EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data” and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine are organising a round table to discuss how the government and civil society can join forces to collect reliable data and make informed decision to protect people’s health and the environment. Several initiatives from the Ukrainian civil society help monitoring air quality through sensors and data visualising tools.
Ruslan Strilets, Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine, emphasised: "It is very important to adopt the Law on improving the mechanism for regulating emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere, which brings Ukraine closer to EU standards.”
“A few years ago, Ukraine started to provide data on air quality to the European Air Quality Index. This included data from two monitoring stations in Mariupol: on Metalurhiv avenue and on Peremohy avenue. Russia’s war of aggression destroyed Mariupol and the results of our joint work to make air cleaner in this and many other cities and towns across Ukraine. The European Union is committed to help Ukraine to build back better. We will work together to restore the quality of environment in Ukraine and increase the environmental and climate resilience of your country. Implementing our shared commitments is crucial for the green transformation”, said Chloé Allio, Head of Section "Economic Cooperation, Energy, Infrastructure and Environment" of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine.
”We agree that Ukraine should strengthen its efforts to implement the environmental component of the Association Agreement with the European Union. Accelerated adoption of new environmental legislation and increased capacity for implementation and enforcement will be critical to the country's progress.” said Ruslan Havryliuk, the Head of the Non-Governmental Organisation, “National Ecological Center of Ukraine.
“The SaveEcoBot initiative, together with authorities and partners, tries to obtain and aggregate as much data as possible to form reliable and comprehensive information about air quality and its further analysis. Monitoring air quality is crucial to ensure the environmental security of citizens, especially in wartime. This is important, in particular, to analyse the impacts of the aggressor's military actions on the environment and request compensation for the damages.” said Pavlo Tkachenko, Head of the SaveEcoBot initiative, run by Non-Governmental Organisation “SaveDnipro”.
Johannes Mayer, Senior Expert, EU4Environment “Water Resources and Environmental Data” programme, from Environment Agency Austria: “Civil society in Ukraine is already very engaged in monitoring air quality through sensor networks. These data help raising public awareness in many cities and will complement the calibrated measurements from a modernised state air quality monitoring, which are needed to meet EU Air Quality Directive requirements.”
The round table is attended by representatives of: the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources and the State Environmental Academy of Ukraine, the Statistics Agency, the Ukrainian civil society, the EU Delegation to Ukraine, and relevant EU-funded programmes. Everyone interested are welcomed to join online.