Today I did my usual running exercise, but in an unusual way, from work (Brussels) to home.
Nice experience. Much better than driving by car, and even better than using public transport.
However, terrible air quality & air pollution in certain parts of the city center !
For example, in the Wetstraat area, it’s hard to breath, let alone to walk or run. This destroys many of the health benefits which running is supposed to have. And much of the fun of it.
Of course, the city of Brussels has launched some great initiatives. For example the pedestrian-only zone which was created recently. Not everyone enjoyed the chaos (i.e. the traffic around that area) during the first days, but after a while, car drivers got used to it, I guess.
This is a good example of “change”: many people were strongly against it and saw only the drawbacks, but now it seems widely accepted that this was / is a smart measure.
According to the website Brussels.be, air quality in Brussels is developing in the right direction: “All KPI’s confirm this, over the last 20 years, the air quality in Brussels is improving steadily”.
The European Commission seems to have a different opinion: “The European Commission refers Belgium to the EU Court of Justice over persistently high levels of the dust particles which pose a major risk to public health. Despite an obligation for Member States to ensure good air quality for citizens, air quality has been a problem for a number of years now. Poor air quality causes more deaths than road traffic accidents. Tiny particles, mostly resulting from human activities such as transport, industry and domestic heating cause respiratory problems, lung cancer and premature death”.
My view on this ? Let’s be a little bit more competitive !
When it comes to our Red Devils, we’re more than compeitive! We are number 1 on the FIFA Ranking. And Denmark comes in at nr 35. So when the city of Copenhagen expresses its ambition to be CO2-neutral within 10 years, we should beat them, no ? We will achieve this in a much shorter timeframe, like, within 5 years ?
In Copenhagen, they have asked the smartest people (like Katherine Richardson , Professor, Vice Dean at Copenhagen University) to think about the issue, and to come up with smart solutions. And to measure progress. According to this article in De Tijd some of the measures are rather straightforward, but very effective:
A. Create safe, high quality & uninterrupted bicycle paths, otherwise people won’t use their bicycle. If we may add: and also great walking (& running) paths!
B. Change the mindset with regards to mobility. Set examples. Don’t give fancy company cars to top Executives & then allow them to park right below the office, as a status symbol. An organisation in Copenhagen which is mentioned, with more than 200 employees, has zero parking space.
C. Use smart tools to measure the loss of heat, throughout the city. Many offices, schools, etc. generate a lot of (unnecessary) heat & energy, e.g. because they are kept warm during weekends & after office hours !
D. Use new, energy-efficient technology, e.g. LED-technology for the streetlights.
E. Windmills can be built near the city centers: Copenhagen has three windmills less than 5 kms from the city center.
Sounds easy ? Then I see little reason why we can’t beat the Danish !