World Environment Day 2019 calls to action

LCA4Climate se une a las celebraciones de ONU Medio Ambiente para combatir la contaminación del aire

Foto: ONU Medio Ambiente

La ONU llama a la movilización para combatir la crisis global de la contaminación del aire: desde ir en bicicleta o caminando hasta el trabajo, hasta presionar a las autoridades locales para que mejoren los espacios verdes de nuestras ciudades.

LCA4Climate joins the World Environment Day celebrations, a United Nations’ yearly event held on June 5th since 1974, aimed at encouraging global awareness and action for the protection of our environment. The theme of World Environment Day 2019, chosen by this year’s host, China, “Beat Air Pollution,” invites us all to consider how we can change our everyday lives to reduce the amount of air pollution we produce, and thwart its contribution to global warming and its effects on our own health.

The UN encourages us to tackle air pollution by turning off lights and electronics not in use,  and checking efficiency ratings for home heating systems and cook stoves to choose models that save money and protect health. Also, it reminds us that we must never burn trash, as this contributes directly to air pollution. Furthermore, the UN proposes cycling or walking to work and back, recycling non-organic trash and pressuring local authorities to improve green spaces in our cities, among other initiatives to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Here lies the crux of the situation we are in today.

Local and regional authorities play an important role in implementing and achieving the Agenda 2030 and the 17 SDGs, aimed to end extreme poverty and create a healthy, sustainable world by the year 2030. “At their heart lies the health and well-being of people and our planet, which means air pollution—the deaths and disabilities it causes and its close links to climate change—is a huge threat to delivering on the vision of a better world,” according to the UN.

SDGs and air pollution

To achieve a sustainable future for all, the goals can also serve as a weapon against air pollution. For example, SDG 3 on good health and well-being for all aims to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination by 2030.

SDG 7 on clean energy targets access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. “Three billion people cook using polluting open fires or simple stoves fuelled by kerosene, biomass (wood, animal dung, and crop waste) and coal. The resultant air pollution kills almost four million people each year, mainly women and children,” according to the UN. Thus, “clean and renewable energy will save lives and boost economic development,” the organisation adds.

SDG 11 on sustainable cities and communities is crucial in our urbanizing world. “In 2016, more than half of urban dwellers were exposed to outdoor air pollution levels at least 2.5 times above World Health Organization safe levels,” as highlighted by the UN. In order to provide better air quality and transform the urban landscape, the UN urges the implementation of policies that make cities smart, resilient and green, through urban planning, technology, and citizen participation.

And last, but certainly not least, SDG 13 tackles climate change and its impacts. “Many of the air pollutants that affect our health also warm the atmosphere,” as stated by the UN. In order to address the climate emergency of air pollution, the organisation calls to actions to improve air quality, such as switching to cleaner energy or transport solutions.

Thus, there is hope. That is why the UN launches a positive message to curb this problem: “Air pollution is preventable, and the solutions are there. Let’s show the world that the time to act is now.”

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