United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres outlines steps needed to tackle air pollution and ensure a healthy, sustainable planet for all ahead of the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies on 7 September.
In July this year, nations recognized the universal right to clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Clean air is now a human right. A stable climate is a human right. Healthy nature is a human right.
Today, air pollution is denying billions of people of their rights. Dirty air affects 99 per cent of people on the planet, and the poor suffer worst. Especially women and girls who suffer from cooking and heating with dirty fuels.
The poor also live in areas choked with fumes from traffic and industry. Air pollutants also cause global warming, and wildfires are further polluting the air. And when people are exposed to air pollution and extreme heat, their risk of death is some 20 per cent higher.
Climate change and air pollution are a deadly duo. On this third International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, I call on all countries to work together to combat air pollution.
We know what to do: invest in renewable energy and swiftly transition away from fossil fuels; rapidly move to zero-emission vehicles and alternative modes of transport; increase access to clean cooking, heating and cooling; recycle waste instead of burning it.
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