Health Costs of Air and Transport Pollution in European Cities

Launch of new study and online discussion


21 October 2020

10:30 - 12:00 CET



Transport pollution puts a particular burden on cities, damaging the health of all urban dwellers.

Five years after Dieselgate, new research across 432 European cities estimates that transport-related air pollution costs the average European city resident €1,276 per year, revealing the magnitude of the damage toxic air is causing to people’s health and the huge health inequalities that exist between and within countries in Europe.

Our panelists discussed the estimated healthcare costs of air and transport pollution in cities, the impact of the changes to the regulatory framework for vehicles on cities, and the measures some cities are taking to address transport pollution


About the study 

Read the report

Find out how much air pollution is costing your health

Visit the interactive report website 

Download the report presentation

Re-live the Event  

“Let me be clear on this: we need a renewed commitment to a complete phase out of the polluting combustion engine, as the correct conclusion of the Dieselgate scandal! Anything else might be too little too late, and ultimately it could compromise Europe’s long-term healthy recovery and Green Deal objectives.”

“Our study reveals the magnitude of the damage toxic air is causing to people’s health and the huge health inequalities that exist between and within countries in Europe. To a large extent, the situation can be influenced by transport policies and cities can reduce costs by switching to zero-emission urban mobility. Governments and the European Union should bear these costs in mind for transport policy in order to support, not to hinder, a healthy recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Sascha Marschang

Acting Secretary General , European Public Health Alliance

We quantify that every citizen in Europe loses annually € 1 276 in welfare due to poor air quality…..

Our regression analysis suggests that transport policies matter for air quality in cities and may be key in reducing the social costs of air pollution.

Sander de Bruyn

Environmental Economics Coordinator , CE Delft

An urgency to act on air pollution emerges clearly from this study…. (the) economical calculation of environmental impact, as challenging as it might be, is indispensable to tackle further environmental health issues such as air pollution

Watch the full video message here 

Veronica Manfredi

Director for Quality of Life, DG Environment , European Commission

How big is the impact of local transport policies on the air pollution within a city: 25%! Policy matters…

Yet, Europe has not been sufficiently ambitious, in its standards nor in its implementations…. The European Union needs to discuss not just clean technology but also alternatives to cars in cities: how can we stimulate the alternatives?… The possession of cars stimulates the use of cars!

MEP Bas Eickhout

Vice-Chair, Committee on Environment, Public Health & Food Safety , The Greens/EFA, NL

The report only focuses on the health costs, but many other costs can be added: for instance, spending for fuels, the huge amount of time wasted in congestion or the huge waste of public space which is dedicated to individual cars……When finding solutions, we must not put more costs on consumers who are often trying to do their best. Sustainable transport solutions should always be available, attractive and affordable to all

Dimitri Vergne

Team Leader Sustainability, BEUC

The health cost of air pollution is shockingly high, it is more than the double of the municipal budget of Budapest….It is important to remember that public transports in Eastern European cities are sometimes a major source of air pollution: the average age of the bus fleet in Budapest is over 20 years, with old Euro 3 buses still serving…The Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) should target a green transition and a green recovery. The cities must be an important partner, an ally of the European Commission because in those Member States, the national governments are very often quite critical towards the increasing European climate and air quality targets.

Benedek Jávor

Representative of Budapest Municipality

The EU should legislate more to reduce emissions at the source for agriculture, shipping and transport. EU air ambient quality legislation and infringement procedures  are crucial to ensure actions. Their implementation at the local level is important.

Louise Duprez

Sustainable Mobility Project Manager, Bruxelles Environnement

Now air pollution is firmly a priority on the political agenda, but also for people; they want clean air and they are increasingly voicing for that and urging the decision-makers to act….The European Commission should present a strong proposal for a zero-pollution plan, with conditionality funds for clean air and measures to tackle the climate emergency. It should update clean air standards in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the latest scientific evidence. We should all encourage our politicians to act to ensure sustainable and affordable public transport.

Anne Stauffer

Deputy Director , Health and Environment Alliance

On Social Media




Welcome and Introductions

The value added of health civil society.  How can civil society facilitate that dialogue with good practices

Sascha Marschang, Acting Secretary General, European Public Health Alliance 

10:40- 11:00 Health costs of air pollution in European cities and the linkage with transport

What are the estimated healthcare costs of air pollution in cities and more specifically of transport pollution?

Sander de Bruyn, CE Delft


11:00-11:10 - Questions and Answers
11:10-11:40 Panel discussion, reflecting on the study conclusions

Veronica Manfredi, European Commission – DG ENV, Head of Unit (video message)

MEP Bas Eickhout, Vice-Chair, Committee on Environment, Public Health & Food Safety (The Greens/EFA, NL), 

Dimitri Vergne, BEUC, Team Leader Sustainability

Louise Duprez, Sustainable Mobility Project Manager, Bruxelles Environnement, Brussels

Benedek Jávor,  Representative of Budapest

11:40-11:50 Questions and Answers
11:50-12:00 Conclusion and closing remarks

Anne Stauffer, Deputy Director, Health and Environment Alliance

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