Global Sustainability Global Sustainability - AQI Update: COVID-19 - A Turning Point for Air Quality?

UBS Evidence Lab's city congestion data reveals how soon congestion has picked up again even at relatively modest levels of "unlockdown". To lock in quality of-life improvements such as air quality, proactive steps are required.

28 May 2020

Relative Congestion (7 day)* - Europe

Source: UBS Evidence Lab, Global Congestion Monitor TomTom.

This line graph charts expected watch production and watch orders over the next 3 months from January 2001 through January 2020.

Is Covid-19 a Turning Point for Air Quality?

On the other side of the immediate crisis, we think it will be clear that Covid-19 could be a turning-point for the air-pollution story.  Before COVID, evidence was already mounting to suggest damaging long-term effects on human health from air pollution. The possibility of a connection between exposure to dirty air and poor COVID prognoses has been mooted more than once, albeit at a preliminary stage in the research.

Beautiful City Views in Clear Air but Our Data Are Not So Pretty.

In 2017, we thought that health risks of air pollution had become sufficiently interwoven with the climate change discussion for regulatory change to become more effective for both. As our air quality index (AQI) data suggest, this has not been the case. Moreover, AQI charts suggest that improved air quality in lockdown was not sufficient to put many cities into the "safe" zone.

Congestion Data Suggest a Return to Car Travel Congestion Post Lockdown

UBS Evidence Lab's city congestion charts show how readily congestion starts to pick up again even at relatively modest levels of "unlockdown". A proactive effort is needed to lock in environmental improvements, & to head off potential set-backs (e.g. increased car travel driven by constraints in public transport availability).

Europe's "Green New Deal": Green Shoots for Autos and City Air Quality?

Elsewhere we highlight the importance of "multitasking" strategies designed to address multiple agendas (public health, climate change, inequality) simultaneously. The EC proposed three-pillar structure for the "recovery fund"is just such an approach.

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