Where is the policy response to air pollution deaths?

The current death toll from Covid-19 is just over 800,000 people worldwide. This is likely to be a conservative estimate. To provide some perspective, in 2017, around 56 million people died, with the largest cause of death being cardiovascular diseases, which accounted for about 32% of deaths. 4.2 million people die every year as a result of exposure to outdoor air pollution. If we consider the rankings of risk factors for death, air pollution is number 4 on the list. 4!! Why am I suddenly bringing air pollution into this? Initial research has shown that there is a link between air pollution and Covid-19 cases.


Build Resilience with Cleaner Air: Learning from Covid-19

New research links air pollution to severe Covid-19 progression. This should prompt a re-evaluation of German commitments to safeguarding and improving air quality. Clean air deserves a more prominent place in Germany’s Strategy for Sustainable Development.

A Science Perspective on the Volkswagen Emissions Scandal

When I initially heard about the VW scandal, it was secondhand and I hadn’t read any of the news yet, I didn’t have any of the facts. But I remember thinking (and saying), I don’t know what the big deal is about, everyone knows those chassis dynamometer tests they use for estimating emissions don’t get anywhere close to the real-world emission values. Then I read about it and saw what all the fuss was about – 35 times higher than the US limit value?! And cheating software to pass the test?!

The Potential of Big Data and Cycling

Did you know that after buses, cycling is the most effective use of road space? It’s not really surprising if you think about it, but still a cool statistic. Last week I attended the 4th National German Bicycling Congress. This year it was conveniently held around the corner from the IASS in Potsdam – so, ironically, I didn’t even need to bike there, I could just walk.

Air Pollution and Climate Change: Fostering Better Decisions

A fireplace in the living room – some pay a premium for the cosy atmosphere, others consider it an irresponsible luxury. From an environmental point of view, wood-burning for residential heating isn’t the best option. While CO2 emissions are lower than those from gas and oil heating, it often results in greater emissions of air pollutants. Air pollution not only affects people’s health, but many air pollutants also play a role in short-term climate change.

You Are What You Breathe? Measuring Air Quality in Berlin

Berlin may not be the Netherlands, but there is definitely a fair amount of bicycling infrastructure throughout the city. And if you’re biking in Berlin you’re not alone on the road with only cars for company either. The debate about which cities are the best for biking aside, I enjoy biking, and this summer I biked home from work at least once a week. For me, this meant a journey of roughly 30 km and just under two hours depending on traffic, traffic lights, and how much energy I had at the end of the work day.

Clean Up Our Skies: On a New Commentary Piece in “Nature”

This December, the 20th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) will be held in Lima, Peru. There climate change negotiations will focus on reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the long-lived greenhouse gas primarily responsible for anthropogenic climate change. However, on the short-term, air pollutants that also have an influence on climate, known as short-lived climate forcing pollutants (SLCPs) should also be addressed.