Dr. André de Palma, a distinguished Professor at CY Cergy Paris Université, THEMA, recently presented a seminar at ISET on the “Impact of low emission zones on spatial and economic inequalities using a dynamic transport simulator.” His presentation addressed the critical issue of air pollution – estimated to have caused 311,000 premature deaths in the EU in 2023, with associated costs reaching €224 billion or 1.4% of GDP.
Pollution is an existential threat to modern society, one which endangers both human and planetary health. It includes contaminating the air with ozone, sulfur, nitrogen-containing nitrous oxides, and delicate particulate matter (PM2.5). Reduction of air pollution is a key aspect of Green Growth, which, together with attaining the goals of the Paris Agreement, could save around a million lives a year worldwide by 2050 (Rijsberman, 2019).
Water quality has become a global concern in the twenty-first century. Data from the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6 suggests that only 56% of the world’s domestic wastewater is treated. However, the majority of countries (especially developing nations) do not gather water quality data on a regular basis.
Over the last half-century, air pollution has become an increasingly critical problem globally. The number of harmful emissions connected to human activity has been rising constantly, and, in many locations around the world, the concentrations of individual pollutants are higher than the recommended safe levels. Elevated emission levels are associated with various harmful effects, such as damage to human health and well-being, decreases in productivity, a reduction in land prices, and equally significantly global environmental issues like climate change.
In the modern world, plastic waste recycling has become one of the more crucial activities to combat environmental degradation. The plastic pollution portal from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) highlights that every year around 300 million tons of plastic waste is produced globally. Historically, 9% of the plastic ever produced has been recycled and 12% incinerated, with the remaining 79% going to landfills. Plastic is now truly found worldwide, including within our very food and water, and it is already negatively impacting both wildlife and human wellbeing.