Road transport is a major source of air pollution, which all together causes over 400,000 premature deaths each year in Europe alone. Today’s cars create a silent but dangerous threat to the health of those who live in cities. Air pollution contributes to chronic illnesses affecting practically every system in the human body. There is also growing evidence that air pollution probably makes populations more susceptible to pandemics like COVID-19. Together, we can and must solve this crisis.
We have less than a decade left to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly heighten the risk of floods, droughts and extreme temperatures. The transport sector has been one of the main culprits in driving the runaway climate crisis and in Europe about a quarter of all emissions comes from transport. If we are serious about tackling climate change, we cannot afford to keep polluting cars and vans on our roads.
Sustainable and accessible transport is at the heart of making cities liveable, healthier and more equitable. Yet this will only be possible if together we can get politicians to make the right decisions for their citizens. Effective and widespread solutions are already available, we just need the political will to implement them. The reallocation of public space to walking, cycling and greenery as well as investing in public transport and shared electric mobility are all ways in which we can create a better urban future in Europe.