We can all take simple actions to improve air quality, such as cycling short distances instead of driving
The NSW Government has launched a new education program, Let's Clear the Air
, to support the community to take action to protect NSW air quality, particularly in urban areas.
Mr Bernard Carlon, Divisional Director Sustainability Programs for the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW (DECCW), said the Government's past air pollution initiatives had tackled the big sources of air pollution – such as industry emissions – but that it was important for people to understand how individual actions contributed to air quality in the Sydney Basin.
"The NSW Government has progressively reduced pollution through strong regulation over the past 30 years. As a result, public concern for air quality as an environmental issue has decreased relative to other environmental issues such as water and climate change.
"Everyone has a role to play and understanding how we all contribute to air pollution can help us all contribute to protecting air quality," Mr Carlon said. "Warmer and drier conditions increase the chance of smog, dust storms and fires and all affect air quality. With summer already upon us, this new program is timed to re-engage the people of NSW.
"Let's Clear the Air is designed to increase an individual's understanding of air pollution and its impacts and provide information about what we can all do to improve air quality in NSW.
Our population is growing and more cars are travelling more kilometres on the roads
"Our population is growing, days are getting hotter due to climate change and more people and cars are travelling more kilometres on the roads."
Mr Carlon said the program primarily focuses on simple actions we can all take to improve air quality such as reducing car emissions and fuel costs by promoting walking, cycling, enviro driving and taking public transport.
"Few of us understand the contribution we make as individuals to air pollution, but more than 50 per cent of the car trips taken in Australia each year are estimated to be less then five kilometres. For every 50,000 people doing just that, you end up with an additional 155 kilograms of smog forming pollutants and 12 tonnes of greenhouse gases added to the local atmosphere each year.
"Encouraging and supporting people to walk, cycle or take public transport has the potential to improve our air quality, particularly in summer, when the conditions are right for the creation of smog," he said.
Mr Carlon said DECCW has been conducting workshops with councils, who will be able to deliver the program in their local communities. A new website, Clear the Air provides information and free awareness raising and educational resources. Limited funding will also available to councils wishing to run local demonstration projects to further encourage people to reduce air pollution.
The Let's Clear the Air program complements and supports the NSW Government's 25 year plan for cleaner air, Action for Air, which has been recently updated and directs the Government's efforts to key areas for action.
Clear the Air is a Clean Air Healthy Communities initiative, assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust. Clean Air, Healthy Communities brings together a range of initiatives and partnerships to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in NSW.
Visit Clear the Air.