The Breathe Warsaw initiative will provide technical assistance and capacity building to support the deployment of data-driven policies to improve air quality and benefit climate and health in the Polish capital.
The City of Warsaw, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Clean Air Fund are partnering to improve air quality in the Polish capital.
The Breathe Warsaw initiative will provide technical assistance and capacity building to support the deployment of policies to improve air quality and benefit climate and health. It will strengthen and use air quality data to inform policies and better understand sources of pollution in the city.
Pollution action plan
Currently, air quality in Warsaw exceeds both the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and EU pollution limits. It is estimated that if Warsaw met WHO guidelines, an estimated 1,500 deaths could be prevented annually. Breathe Warsaw is aligned with the EU’s ambition to reduce the number of premature deaths by 55 per cent by 2030, as outlined in its Zero Pollution Action Plan.
“Warsaw is not afraid to face its challenges and the fight against air pollution is definitely one of them,” said Rafał Trzaskowski, mayor of Warsaw. “We are joining an ambitious project that will strengthen our current efforts to improve air quality in the city, to fight climate change and improve the health of our citizens.
“Ambitious goals require specific, professional actions. That is why we start a partnership with entities who are experts in improving air quality.”
“We are joining an ambitious project that will strengthen our current efforts to improve air quality in the city, to fight climate change and improve the health of our citizens”
For Bloomberg Philanthropies, the launch builds on its collaboration with Brussels, Paris, Milan, London, Jakarta, and other governments across Europe and the world to improve air pollution.
“Action on air pollution helps people live better, longer, and healthier lives. It also helps tackle climate change, since the biggest sources of carbon emissions and air pollution are often the same. More cities are waking up to the dual threat air pollution poses to public health and the health of our climate, and by taking bold steps forward, they can inspire others to follow,” said Michael Bloomberg, UN secretary-general’s special envoy for climate ambition and solutions and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Building on the City of Warsaw’s existing efforts and high ambitions, the initiative will draw on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ previous experience partnering with major cities, as well as the Clean Air Fund’s expertise in global clean air campaigns to:
Leverage Europe’s largest network of air quality sensors: Warsaw’s network of air quality sensors in 165 locations is Europe’s largest. Breathe Warsaw will use this network and its data to develop a comprehensive air quality database to better understand pollution sources and to inform data-driven interventions.
Design an effective and data-driven low-emission zones (Lez): with 859 cars per 1,000 habitants, Warsaw has one of the highest vehicle ownership rates in Europe. A recent report by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) showed that old diesel vehicles are the greatest contributors to air pollution in Warsaw. Breathe Warsaw will provide technical and policy research support to deliver an ambitious low-emission zone by 2024.
Advance cleaner heating systems: coal heating also significantly contributes to Warsaw’s poor air quality. Despite bold policies implemented by the administration of Mazovia and the Warsaw city council to cut pollution, 8,000-10,000 coal stoves remain in the city. Substituting coal for a cleaner fuel to heat people’s homes will be a major undertaking to improve air quality in the city. The initiative will strengthen technical support for collecting, analysing, sharing, and applying air quality data to inform decision-making and regulation to accelerate the phase-out of coal heating.
Sharing best practices for clean air: the initiative will help connect local leaders and organisations in Warsaw to exchange knowledge and best practices with other cities to advance clean air action in the region and globally.
“More cities are waking up to the dual threat air pollution poses to public health and the health of our climate, and by taking bold steps forward, they can inspire others to follow”
Secure public support for clean air action: Breathe Warsaw will mobilise local partners for awareness and educational campaigns to support clean air action.
Warsaw has made improving air quality a top priority. In 2019, it joined other major cities in signing the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration, in which it committed to measure and substantially reduce its air pollution levels for the benefit of both citizens’ health and climate. The declaration now has 48 signatory cities.
The Clean Air Fund has been working in Warsaw with partners to strengthen the clean air movement for the past two years. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ clean air partnerships around the globe aim to enhance air quality and public health data and monitoring systems to inform policies and actions that reduce air pollution and create healthier communities.