UN calls nations to join 'clean air initiative'

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) Ahead of the 2019 Climate Action Summit, the United Nations, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UN Environment and Climate and Clean Air Coalition on Tuesday announced the clean air initiative and urged governments participation.

The announcement was made by Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Climate Action Summit, here after two-day meetings with representatives of governments, business and civil society.

"The climate and the air pollution crisis are driven by the same factors and must be tackled by joint actions. The governments at all levels have both an urgent need and huge opportunity not only to address the climate crisis, but also to improve the health and save the lives of millions of people around the world, all while making progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)," said the Ambassador.

"We call on governments at all levels to step up to this challenge and bring powerful commitments and concrete plans to the upcoming Climate Action Summit," de Alba said.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said, "Air pollution kills about 7 million people every year. Nine out of 10 people globally breathe the air that's not fit for human use. We need to agree unequivocally on the need for a world free of air pollution."

"We need all countries and cities to commit to meeting WHO standards for air quality," he said.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is convening the Climate Action Summit in New York on September 23 and has called on the government, business and civil society leaders to bring bold actions and much greater ambition.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also attend the summit.

The clean air initiative calls on national and sub-national governments to commit to achieving air quality that is safe for citizens, and to align climate change and air pollution policies by 2030.

According to the World Bank, air pollution costs the global economy around $5.11 trillion in welfare losses. In the 15 countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions, health impacts of pollution are estimated to be 4 per cent of the GDP.

Meeting the Paris Agreement on climate change, however, could save over 1 million lives a year by 2050 and yield health benefits worth $54.1 trillion, twice the costs of mitigation, through reduced air pollution alone.

Governments at all levels can join the initiative by committing to specific actions, including implementing air quality and climate change policies that will achieve the WHO ambient air quality guideline values.

The initiative comprises implementing e-mobility and sustainable mobility policies and actions with the aim of making a decisive impact on road transport emissions.

--IANS

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