Quality of the air and energy transition: the expertise of the AASQA at the service of integrated air-climate-energy actions.

By Guy Bergé, Mayor of Jussy (Moselle), Vice-Chairman of Metz Métropole in charge of the environment and sustainable development, Chairman of ATMO France

"ATMO France federates the National Network of Approved Air Quality Monitoring Associations (AASQA), which constitute unique places for shared diagnosis and concerted actions with regard to the quality of the air: there is one per region and responsibility for their governance is shared between State, Local Authorities, Companies, Associations and qualified personalities.

In order to carry out their missions as air quality observatories, the AASQA rely on a network of measurements, an inventory of emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, and modelling tools (mapping and scenario building). This enables them to support the local authorities by assessing actions for air pollution prevention and the reducing of the exposure of the population to air pollution, and thereby help them to establish breathable regions with low levels of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Fortified by expertise dating back over 40 years, the AASQA have been able to assess the extent to which the air pollutant reduction actions are essential for the fight against global warming.

On the other hand, certain action levers put forward for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (motor vehicle travel, residential, tertiary, industrial and agricultural sectors) may degrade the quality of the external and internal air if special provisions are not taken. The burning of wood and biomass, for example, are methods of renewable energy advocated in the fight against climate change, but are accompanied by a discharge more or less important of air pollutants (particles, HAP, NOx, COV ...) depending upon the wood-fired heating installations or the source of the biomass. The development of this energy therefore has to be accompanied by an accelerated renewal of the stock of heating appliances with very high performance appliances discharging fewer pollutants. The efficiency of the devices for collecting pollution on the chimneys also needs to be evaluated, before any recommendations. The same vigilance needs to be applied to the increased level of insulation of new buildings, offices or housing units, that enables energy consumption to be greatly reduced, but may however degrade the quality of the inside air if the sizing of the mechanical ventilation is inadequate.