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Archive for June, 2019

France loses landmark court case over air pollution

The French state has failed to do enough to limit air pollution around Paris, according to a landmark court ruling delivered after a woman and daughter with respiratory problems sued the nation.

In the first case of its kind, Farida, 52, and her 16-year-old daughter, whose full names were not released by the court, sued the French state over the impact of living near Paris’s traffic-choked ringroad in Saint-Ouen.

She had told an association fighting for clean air: “For years I had respiratory infections.” What began as nasal and throat infections got gradually worse. “I repeatedly had bronchitis. Doctors gave me antibiotics but it wasn’t helping,” she said.

“Three years ago I was sent to a lung specialist who said my problems were linked to air pollution. He advised me to move. My daughter had had bronchitis as a baby then asthma while growing up.” The woman and her daughter eventually moved to Orléans and the symptoms cleared up.

The case, before the administrative court in Montreuil outside Paris, was the first brought by individuals against the French state over health problems caused by air pollution. It was backed by several environmental groups.

The court said in its written verdict: “The state committed a fault by taking insufficient measures concerning the quality of air.” It said that between 2012 and 2016 the state failed to take measures needed to reduce concentrations of certain polluting gases exceeding the limits.

“For victims of pollution, this is a first,” said the women’s lawyer, Francois Lafforgue. “From now, the state will have to take effective measures in the fight against pollution.”

But the court rejected the women’s demand for €160,000 (£143,000) in damages, saying it could not find a direct link between their health problems and the state’s failings.

The court ruling said the state had failed to fulfil its air protection plan intended to counter pollution.

Nadir Saïfi, the vice-president of the organisation Ecology without Borders, told Le Monde: “This is a historic judgment for the 67,000 French people who die prematurely each year due to air pollution. Today victims of pollution, like victims of pesticide, should not be afraid to go to court to defend their health.”

[Source: The Guardian]

Proof! Ice cream makes everything better

Nissan has created an all-electric, zero-emission ice cream van concept for ‘clean air day’ in the UK.

Most ice cream vans, particularly old models, have diesel engines which are kept running to operate the refrigeration equipment. Nissan has taken the internal combustion engine (ICE) out of the ice cream van to present a solution for carbon footprint and create the Nissan e-NV200.

Partnering with Mackie’s of Scotland, an ice cream producer, Nissan’s project demonstrates how a ‘sky to scoop’ approach can remove carbon dependence.

“Ice cream is enjoyed the world over, but consumers are increasingly mindful of the environmental impact of how we produce such treats, and the ‘last mile’ of how they reach us,” Nissan Motor Ltd managing director Kalyana Sivagnanam says.

The van’s motor is driven by a 40kWh battery, but the on-board ice cream equipment, including a soft-serve machine, freezer drawer and drinks fridge are powered by the Nissan Energy Roam.

Roam is a portable power pack that uses lithium-ion cells recovered from early first-generation Nissan EVs and will go on sale later in 2019.

“At Mackie’s we’ve already shifted our dependence from fossil-fuels on to clean renewable power. We now export 4.5 times more energy to the national grid than we consume,” Mackie’s of Scotland marketing director Karin Hayhow says.

[Source: Transport Talk]

Free Public Transport Day in Auckland

Emission Impossible Ltd staff walking the talk

Auckland Transport hit 100 million passengers in one year and so to celebrate they made all trains, buses and some ferries free on Sunday 23 June 2019. Radio New Zealand reported the day was a success with initial counts showing patronage up 65% compared with a normal Sunday.

Jayne and Louise made the most of the opportunity to ride on two double decker buses and four trains to take the family to the pub. (Brother’s Brewery in Orakei highly recommended).

Australia proposes new ambient air quality standards

The (Australian) National Environment Protection Council (NEPC) has proposed new ambient air quality standards in the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality Measure (AAQ NEPM) for the following gases:

  • ozone (O3)
  • nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
  • sulphur dioxide (SO2).

The following table compares the new proposed standards with the 2005 World Health Organisation (WHO) global ambient air quality guidelines and New Zealand’s national environmental standards for air quality (all concentrations in µg/m3).

An impact statement, published by the NEPC, found there are health effects arising from exposure to O3, NO2 and SO2 in Australian cities at their current concentrations. The associated combined health costs due to mortality and hospitalisation over the period 2010–2014 were of the order of $562 million to $2,405 million, depending on the choice of concentration response functions (CRFs). However, when considering the full cost benefit anlaysis, the application of the different CRF groups did not change the overall outcome, which was a negative net present value (NPV) to society.

The statement further noted that with the predicted population growth in Australian cities and regional areas, the number of people that are exposed to air pollution will also increase, leading to an increased health burden.

Of interest, a modelled abatement package scenario was shown to not be cost-effective in achieving reductions in pollutant levels. The impact statement recommended consideration be given to alternative abatements that may achieve a larger impact across whole populations such as those associated with motor vehicles and transport options.

The impact statement is available here.

[Source: CASANZ]