He General secretary The UN warned today that polluted air contributes to the appearance of various diseases such as heart disease, strokes, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.
“It is estimated that it causes around 7 million premature deaths each year, primarily in low- and middle-income countries. Air pollution also threatens the economy, food security and the environment, ”Guterres highlighted in his message for the first International Clean Air Day for a Blue Day.
The UN chief indicated that as the world recovers from the coronavirus pandemic it must monitor air pollution more closely, “which also increases the risks associated with COVID-19.”
At the same time, he warned of the importance of urgently addressing the threat posed by the effects of climate change for the entire planet.
Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees will help reduce air pollution, death and disease. This year’s closures have drastically reduced emissions, which has allowed many cities to breathe cleaner air ”.
However, Guterres highlighted the need to carry out a “drastic and systemic” change since polluting gas emissions are growing again, “and in some places they are exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels.”
“Today more than ever there is a need for strengthened environmental laws, regulations and standards to prevent the emissions of air pollutants. Countries must also end subsidies for fossil fuels ”, explained.
Therefore, he highlighted the need for international cooperation in the transition to clean technologies and urged all countries to use post-COVID-19 recovery packages. to support the transition to healthy and sustainable jobs.
UNEP joins the initiative
For his part, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) highlighted that air pollution not only poses a serious threat to people, but also to plants and ecosystems.
“Only ozone pollution is responsible for the loss of 52 million tons of crops every year around the world ”, UNEP alerted in a statement published on the occasion of the commemoration.
“Air pollution is the greatest environmental risk to human health, it has a disproportionate impact on the poorest and environmental costs due to health expenditures, loss of productivity, reduction of agricultural yields or reduction in the competitiveness of cities” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.
The head of the Program added that “the confinements due to COVID-19 showed us that it is possible to have cleaner skies. That people are willing to listen to science. That we can act quickly to protect human health. We must take urgent action to eradicate smog. If we do, we can save millions of lives and billions of dollars every year.”.
The UN General Assembly approved in 2019 a resolution in which September 7 was designated as the International Clean Air Day for a Blue Day. The event highlights the urgent need to promote actions to improve air quality and guarantee clean air for everyone around the planet.