Pan European Networks - Government - page 199

sectors. The Commissioner reflected on this during his closing speech
saying: “One message that has been hammered home this year is ‘only
one air’. We all share the air we breathe, and we need to share global
solutions. Europeans have a special responsibility here. EU air quality
policy, above all else in the transport sector, is used as a reference model
for air pollution strategies in many other parts of the world. As well as a
responsibility, this also represents a huge opportunity, and we need to
make sure that European leadership will give the right direction.”
“We have also learned,” Potocˇnik added, “in some of the sessions and
at the exhibitions, that advanced technology for further emission
reductions is already available, for most, if not all, economic sectors. This
is also true for agriculture, where we hope to see much more progress
in the future.”
Coming to the end of his speech, he advised: “…air quality is about
much more than just legislation, it’s also about the economy and how it
impacts on the environment and on our health. And this brings me to
next year’s theme of Green Week.”
“Most air pollution is caused by economic activities. If you use resources in
a more efficient way, you can also reduce air pollution. If you recycle scrap
steel, for example, you also reduce air pollution of the sector by 87% – and
this is about cleaner air.
“It’s all interlinked. Nature knows this well. And it can teach us precious
lessons. If we look at the way Nature works: it produces, uses and reuses.
It works in a circular manner. Nothing is ever wasted. This is what a green
economy is about. And I want green economy to be the theme of next
year’s Green Week. Actually, we will dedicate all of 2014 to the green
economy; to making our economy a circular one that lives in harmony
with Nature.”
The Commissioner added: “And I was very
pleased to see that European standards are
becoming the reference for a large part of
the world. This is certainly not because they
are weak!”
This is something that Antonio Tajani, the
member of the Commission with responsibility
for Industry, also remarked on during his
appearance at Green Week.
While the event saw participants travel to
Brussels to engage in the subject, Potocˇnik
expressed his confidence that the gathering
was an effective and worthwhile exercise.
At the end of the week he stated: “This is an
event where we are gathering everybody from
all the sciences, from all the stakeholders,
who have thoughts and words on improving
air quality. It is an event that we want to – in
a condensed way – collect new thinking and
new ideas that we can take into account in
this air quality review. It’s an inclusive,
participatory, democratic event in action; with
a very vibrant atmosphere.”
Speaking during the closing address of Green
Week, the Commissioner expanded further on
the discussions, making a number of personal
observations on the event that he found
particularly appealing, and especially relevant
as regards, the review of air policy.
Potocˇnik said: “First of all, leading health
experts have confirmed the strong scientific
evidence for negative health effects from air
pollution. And they have shown that action
works if there is will: policy measures to reduce
air emissions can make a significant difference
to health effects in the short and the longer-
term. They also called for more action at EU
level to reduce emissions at source, and for
stricter air quality standards for harmful
pollutants. We should listen!
“Climate change experts have underlined the
need to address air pollution and climate
change in parallel, giving priority to black
carbon and methane emissions. We have
learned that public awareness is of key
importance for the implementation of existing
air policy, as well as for the success of any
future air pollution strategy.”
Like many environmental problems, air pollution
is a complex concern that crosses a variety of
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199
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