‘Breathe Warsaw’: A new ambitious initiative will strengthen data, technical, and research capacity.
Warsaw, Poland – Today, the City of Warsaw, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Clean Air Fund launched ‘Breathe Warsaw,’ a new ambitious partnership to improve air quality in Poland’s capital. The initiative will provide technical assistance and capacity building to support the deployment of ambitious policies to improve air quality and benefit climate and health. It will strengthen and leverage air quality data to inform policies and better understand sources of pollution in the city.
Air pollution is a major threat to the health of citizens in Europe and globally. Every year, more than 400 000 people in the EU die prematurely due to the impacts of air pollution. Currently, air quality in Warsaw exceeds both the World Health Organization (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% by 2030 – as outlined in its Zero Pollution Action Plan.
Rafał Trzaskowski, Mayor of Warsaw said: “Warsaw is not afraid to face its challenges and the fight against air pollution is definitely one of them. Today 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 today we start a partnership with entities who are experts in improving air quality.”
“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 R. Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “This partnership will help strengthen the health of all Warsaw residents, and I want to thank Mayor Trzaskowski for his leadership and partnership.”
“We’re delighted to be partnering on this campaign,” said Jane Burston, Executive Director at the Clean Air Fund. Addressing the air quality crisis will have multiple benefits for public health, economic productivity and fighting climate change. Local leadership and initiative are key in the fight for clean air, and that’s why projects like Breathe Warsaw are so important.
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 new network of air quality sensors in 165 locations is Europe’s largest. Breathe Warsaw will use this leading 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 1000 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. Despite their relatively low numbers in circulation, the emissions they produce make up a disproportionately large share of total emissions. 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, analyzing, 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.
- Secure public support for clean air action: Breathe Warsaw will mobilize 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. For Bloomberg Philanthropies, today’s launch builds on their collaboration with Brussels, Paris, Milan, London, Jakarta, and other governments across Europe and the world to improve air pollution. 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.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 941 cities and 173 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.66 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.
About the Clean Air Fund:
The Clean Air Fund is a global philanthropic organisation that works with governments, funders, businesses and campaigners to create a future where everyone breathes clean air. ttps://www.cleanairfund.org