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Introduction address
at the EFCA Symposium in Strasburg
Discours d’introduction
du Symposium EFCA de Strasbourg

Authorities, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, authority; air pollution is commonly associated tourban or industrialized areas for which urgent local It is a great pleasure and an honour to welcome measures are requested, while climate change each of you in this prestigious and symbolic place. We sounds more linked to remote desert or deforested are grateful to the European Parliament for the hospi- areas or glacial zones which need questionable tality and for the opportunity given to us to debate in global commitments (the GHG’s concept is not yet the heart of the European policy an issue that we completely perceived even if the public opinion is Last year an in-depth discussion within EFCA In other words air pollution and climate change came to a conclusion that measures to limit climate have run on parallel rails for long time**. In recent change below tolerable levels should be conceived years the scientific community started to convince within an integrated approach with existing and future itself that the two environmental problems should policies in other public domains, notably in clean air. better be faced through a systematic and integrated Air pollution and climate change became prominent approach able to identify co-benefit and no-regret issues in different moments, for different reasons, and had distinct histories. Either in several European I do not have to present any EFCA’s position on countries or in USA, air pollution problems emerged in the issue, since EFCA commits to open meetings and the sixties in a contest of certainty, due to the evident confrontations, like this Symposium, the research of harmful effects on public health, while the climate reasonable and feasible solutions to share in dialogue change problems have been emerging some time with different parties in Europe and to bring to the later in a perspective of probability, that our civilisation attention of the regulatory bodies of the Union. in the long term could have affected somehow achange in climate, through a switch (downward or I would profit of this chance to convey some upward) of the Earth’s surface average temperature.
personal thoughts particularly on one of the aspects As a matter of fact the two issues differ, or are suggested for our debate, concerning the temporal perceived to differ, in several other characters. In and geographical scales which could result more general, air pollutants are easily reactive substances effective and efficient for implementing integrated with short lifetime, while greenhouse gases are, with few exceptions, hardly reactive with long lifetimes; air We are currently urged not only by air pollution pollution is blamed for adverse local short-term and climate change, but also by matters concerning effects, while climate change is expected could raise sustainable development, energy consumption, waste difficult situations at global level sometimes in future; water, urbanisation, solid wastes, mobility, public air pollution is on the agenda of any local and national health, biodiversity, desertification, etc., each of recognizable and recognised authority, while for which, from time to time, is displayed as the central climate change it is hard to figure out a worldwide problem or the most urgent one, resulting deceptive * University of L’Aquila, Italy. President, EFCA.
** A common birthday may be assumed for both, air pollution and climate change. The first environmental law of the industrialage has been the Alkali Act adopted in Great Britain in 1863. It required at least a 95% condensation of the HCI released to theatmosphere without any control from the LeBlanc process for the production of the sodium carbonate. The Gossage Tower adop-ted, able to condensate about 99% of the effluent acid, has been the first end-of-pipe technology and the first win-lose solution.
for the public opinion. The point is that all those The growing urban areas everywhere in the world, matters are linked each others, together with social in large cities or megacities, entails the increasing and economical implications, in a kind of entangled demand of energy, potable water, chemical products, yarn ball which we would like to work out.
land for urbanization, roads, mobility, and, in a syner- The aim of this Symposium is not to focus the gic way, the increasing production of solid wastes, attention only on a couple of those matters, but to waste water, environmental impact, air pollution and reasonably assume air pollution and climate change as the head and the end of the yarn along which all On the other side the abandonment of rural acti - the other environmental aspects come out. Therefore, vities causes degradation of the lands triggering the to research co-benefits for air pollution and climate soil erosion and the modification of the water cycle, change means to look for solutions preferably to the which, on their turn, contribute again to both air pollu- tion through erosion of fine dust and climate change. As a working example I would like to mention a As a result of the migration process both the rural situation occurred on a small geographic scale which poverty and the degraded life in the outskirts of large however anticipated current events in the world. cities are exacerbated, threatening not only social lifeand economy but environment as well. In 1994 United Nations adopted a Convention to Combat Desertification which was ratified by 191 Going back to the Italian hotspots mentioned Countries. In compliance with the commitments before, after forty years the situation is that some rural accepted with the ratification of the UN Convention, areas are still abandoned and the air quality in the Italy prepared its National Action Plan which, surpri- industrial and urban areas does not yet comply with singly, showed that some areas in the south, in the the European standards, at least for ozone and PM.
regions of Puglia, Sicily and Sardinia regions, were Furthermore, an important contribution to the local air particularly sensitive to desertification, along the defi- pollution now is due to non-local sources, anthropo-genic and/or natural, through long-range transport nition given by the same Convention [1].
phenomena. The remaining margin to reduce the The news is that the discovered situations were industrial emissions will become unimportant once all not a consequence of an occasional early local the plants will fit the Best Available Technologies.
climate change, though those areas are characterised Similarly, the process of technological improvement of by low annual rainfall. They were the result of a social conventional vehicles to reduce emissions will run out revolution which started in the sixties due to large sooner or later. Then it will be ever more difficult to industrial settlements in neighbouring areas which find out additional effective local measures to improve employed several thousands of workers removed air quality while the towns will continue to grow. from farming activities. It was easy to persuade For half a century, and still today, all the efforts farmers to abandon low fertile soils together with have been conceived to reduce industrial environ- livestock for a more stable and profitable job in industry.
mental impact or to improve transport and mobility in At that time the national policy used to encourage the urban areas while nothing or very little it seems has development of industry rather than agriculture. apparently been done for the abandoned areas, now The consequence of that policy was that a huge number of polluting sources has been located in quite If both sides of the medal are not adequately restricted areas, a migration phenomenon towards considered and we continue to worry mainly (or only) towns has been encouraged and broad rural areas for urban and industrialised areas without any atten- have been abandoned, causing a contribution both to tion to the increasing poor and degraded lands in the short term air pollution and to long term climate world, in very few decades it could be too late to draw back the environmental policy. This means that our This happens today all over the world at much attention may not currently be confined to the reduc- larger geographic scale and once again as a conse- tion of emissions of pollutants influencing both air quence of social problems rather than of climate pollution and climate change, the latter of which of change. In North Africa, since the mid-1990s onward course is crucial, but we must look around also to the a massive migration towards the Mediterranean causes which produce the growing demand of energy coast, and partly towards European countries, has and mobility and to the consequences on the environ- been observed from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and ment, that is our attention must take into account sub-Saharan’s countries. The rural population in the countries overlooking the Mediterranean see is A policy in this direction, for example, should dramatically reducing. A voluntary or forced migration prevent the increasing gathering of the population in from countryside, pushed by persecution, violence, limited areas of the Earth, promote and preserve civil wars, country’s instability, economic decline, small communities in towns or villages everywhere, in takes place in several regions of Africa, central developed and developing countries. This is possible America and Asia [2, 3]. While a couple of centuries through integrated projects conceived to solve the ago the urban population in the world was few local problems in their whole, provided that the envi- percents of the global population, in 2007 it exceeded ronmental aspects are internalized in the cost-benefit balance, in terms, for example, of provision of water POLLUTION ATMOSPHÉRIQUE - NUMÉRO SPÉCIAL - AVRIL 2009 LA POLLUTION
for the agriculture, exploitation of biomass from wood- change due to the import of products which may imply land due to periodic selective cutting of woods, bio - a long distance transport. It may be thought that it is diversity preservation, reduction of fire probability, no time for trade protection, but for the environment reduction of soil erosion, respect and preservation of yes, it is. Most likely for a huge number of products local natural and cultural peculiarities, less petroleum the import/export could not be justified if the environ- consumption, less CO2 production, etc. If these bene- mental costs were internalized. This is also true for fits are not taken in due account of course there is no several farming products which could easily grow in way to justify any funding for projects in that direction our lands. Under the WTO rules there are no specific (for example through Clean Development Mecha agreements dealing with the environment, even if it is allowed to members to adopt trade-related measures Let’s make a couple of trivial examples of for the protection of the environment [5]. Within the solutions which take to a different view of an environ- world trade domain, for example for natural food products, great opportunities of co-benefits could beachieved with a policy which promote local produc- A wind power generator of 3 MW in one year may tions everywhere in the world and discourage the produce 4 500 MWh, based on average of 1 500 h/ import/export, thus internalising at least the transport year, that is it may cover the consumption of about 625 people in Europe (assuming an average of7 200 kWh/y pro capita). We are aware of the envi- To conclude, I believe we should give a strong ronmental advantage of this renewable source inso- message to our regulatory bodies that co-benefits for much as to justify grant aids and subsidies by the the environment as a whole do not come only fromemission trading, renewable energy sources or low- governments. What about the benefit if we install the emission vehicles but may be achieved, in an effec- same generator in a poor village in a developing tive and strategic way, in any aspect of our life, in any country. It could satisfy the energy requirements of domain, for which an integrated approach should be some thousands of people and discourage them to emigrate. The benefits in the second case would beenormously higher if we internalize all those negative This would be the proper way to apply the “pol luter aspects produced by migration in large cities and all pays” principle with respect to the environment the positive aspects if those people remain in their preservation, to foster integrated solutions, to gain own lands. The first solution is an example of co- multi-benefits, to satisfy the community’s expecta- benefits in our backyard; the second would be a tions, to eradicate poverty which is believed to be “the strategic multi-benefit solution at global level.
greatest global challenge facing the world today andan indispensable requirement for sustainable deve- The European Union has been adopting ambitious environmental standards, together with voluntaryinstruments like Ecolabel or Integrated Product Policy I am confident that in a couple of days this in order to promote the production of goods environ- Symposium will be able to add some important value mentally friendly and in safety. However, as a direct to the current international debate on the co-benefits consequence of that policy, some productions are concept and deliver to the European policy makers moved in developing countries, which turn a blind eye to environment, safety and sometimes to ethic On behalf of EFCA and personally I wish to thank aspects. This policy reduces the impact on our air very much each of you for coming and for the contri- quality, but at the same time charges the climate References
1. Italy – National Report, Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification, 3rd session, Bonn, Germany, 27 April to 6 May 2005.
2. Moulin C, Chiapello I. Impact of human-induced desertification on the intensification of Sahel dust emis- sion and export over the last decades, Geophysical Res. Letters, Vol. 33, 2006.
3. Benoit G, Comeau A. A Sustainable Future for the Mediterranean. The Blue Plan’s Environment and development outlook, Earthscan, London, 2005. 4. Urban sprawl in Europe. The ignored challenge, EEA Report n° 10/2006.


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