When we consider that 92% people globally do not breathe clean air, the need to tackle air pollution appears more important than ever. And on June 5th 2019, the United Nations will take the first step in doing so, with the worldwide celebration of World Environment Day. This year, China take on the job of hosts, with the theme being ‘Air Pollution’.
First launched in 1974, World Environment Day is celebrated in more than 100 countries across the globe and is the biggest annual event for positive environmental change. The UN designated 5th June as the official date in an effort to encourage worldwide awareness and action to protect the environment. The UN will urge governments, industry leaders and communities to explore renewably energy options and enlighten individuals on the possibilities of green technology.
Shockingly, approximately 7 million people die prematurely every year from air pollution. While the problem may seem vast, complex and baffling, we can all do our part to reduce it and prevent it affecting our health and environment. The pollution we breathe in is dependent on a variety of factors, and while we might consider ‘rush hour traffic’ the most obvious source of local pollution, the truth is that this pollution travels vast distances, across continents in some cases. When it comes to household air pollution, the main source is indoor burning of fossil fuels and wood to cook, heat and light homes. Around 3.8 million people die prematurely from indoor air pollution each year, with the majority living in developing countries. By adopting modern stoves and clean fuels, we can reduce the risk of illness and ultimately save lives. Of course, reducing vehicle emissions is a key factor in improving our air quality. By implementing polices that require the use of ‘clean’ fuels and advanced vehicles, we can reduce emissions by around 90%. In short, the majority of air pollution comes from human activity.
This years hosts, China, have recently emerged as a climate leader with a growing green energy sector. Currently, half of the world’s electric vehicles and 99% of the world’s electric buses are owned by China. World Environment Day 2019 gives the Chinese government the opportunity to showcase and share their innovative progress towards a greener, cleaner environment.