Economic and financial costs of air pollution in Mont-Blanc

Environmental Associations meet the Senate inquirers
Délégation SénatorialeAssociations involved in the protection of health and air quality in the French valleys around Mont Blanc, ARSMB, Environn’Mont Blanc and proMONT-BLANC/Mountain Wilderness have responded to the invitation of the Senate Inquiry Commission Tuesday, June 10 in Chamonix. They expressed their concerns about air pollution at the global level and more specificly in the Arve Valley. In general terms the WHO estimates that the economic impact of this threat is about 10 to 12% of the GDP of 53 studied countries, while in France the cost of pollution on health is estimated between € 0.9 and 1.8 billion per year.

Because of its location and its peculiar geographical configuration, the Arve valley (which includes Chamonix’s) undergoes considerable pollution peaks frequently exceeding the maximum limits set by Europe. Although significant correction measures have been put locally in place, the associations believe that the state does not care enough of their problems and the situation continues to deteriorate (depending on pollutants: caused by individual heaters, transport and industry).

They particularly drew attention to the negative aspects to the tourism industry of a degrading image, relayed by the media and which tends to spread. The economy of the valley is in a great dependence of a tourism oriented toward well being and nature sports attracted by the immaculate image of Mont Blanc.

While a considerable effort is made to facilitate sustainable mobility in the valleys, their access require almost a mandatory use of individual vehicles, the rail network being completely out of line with needs. It is thus imperative that with the realization of he cross-border project CEVA (a rail network linking the great Geneva to the Haute-Savoie valleys), a proper rail routing upgrade, in relation with real users needs, is put in place to support a pool of over 550,000 rapidly growing population.

As for freight transport (averaging more than 1,500 trucks per day crossing the Mont Blanc tunnel), the associations would like that an overall strategy to be studied and applied for all the traffic serving the alpine axes, and see the Mont-Blanc traffic decreased.

To date the industry evaluates and declares itself to the state the pollutant emissions it produces, it is recommended that objective criteria are developed and independently controlled to better act on them as appropriate .