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April 15, 2024
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UNEP: 90% of Human Breathe Polluted Air.

The United Nations Environment Progamme (UNEP) ahas declared nine out of 10 (90%) people on earth breathe polluted air, which causes an estimated seven million premature deaths a year. It

Admitting that governments are increasingly adopting policies on air quality, the agency however insists that significant gaps hinder global progress towards cleaner air.

These observations were made known in multiple statements issued by UNEP to mark the second edition of the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies yesterday, themed: Healthy Air, Healthy Planet, which highlights the link between air quality and planetary and human health.

The commemoration of the day provides a platform for strengthening global solidarity as well as political momentum for action against air pollution and climate change, including actions like the increased collection of air quality data, carrying out joint research, developing new technologies and sharing best practices.

In 2019, the UN General Assembly designated September 7, as the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, which stresses the importance of clean air and the urgent need for efforts to improve air quality to protect human health.

Already, a report released by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on August 9, also declared ‘code red for humanity’, stating that human activities, especially in relation to greenhouse gas emissions accumulated in the atmosphere from coal and fossil fuels exploitation are causing climate change.

In his message on the Day, UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said: “Like many societal ills, air pollution reflects global inequalities. Poverty forces people to live close to sources of pollution, like factories and highways, and burn solid fuels or kerosene for cooking, heating, and lighting. The pollution that is damaging our health is also driving the climate crisis. I call on all countries to do more to improve air quality, invest in renewable energy instead of fossil fuels, phase out coal, and transition to zero emission vehicles.”

Based on its findings, UNEP therefore called on countries to incorporate investments in air pollution clean-up into their post-COVID-19 recovery plans, contained in the statements obtained by Sustainable Economy.

It also urged the setting up of “benchmarks to assess current and future actions towards cleaner air, and to remove barriers in the implementation of policies and programmes, including financing and capacity gaps, and to overcome affordability and maintenance challenges of monitoring equipment.”

UNEP explained that such actions became imperative following a global review of policies and programmes to improve air quality, which showed that “over the past five years more countries have adopted policies on all major polluting sectors. Yet large gaps in implementation, financing, capacity, and monitoring mean that air pollution levels remain high.”

Official commemorations of the second International Day of Clean Air for blue skies were hosted in Nairobi, New York and Bangkok.

The main high-level event for the day included UNEP’s Executive Director, Inger Andersen, and UNEP’s Chief Scientist, Andrea Hinwood, along with other experts and government officials who addressed global action and inaction on air pollution.

Speaking in Nairobi, Ms. Andersen said: “Improving air quality won’t just help improve our health. It will help us save the planet. We all breathe the same air, and we all have a role to play in protecting it. The world is coming together, but we need to translate commitments into policies and actions. For human and planetary health for generations to come, 2021 will be a pivotal year.”

The pollution that is damaging our health is also driving the climate crisis. I call on all countries to do more to improve air quality, invest in renewable energy instead of fossil fuels, phase out coal, and transition to zero emission vehicles

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