The First International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies
Clean air is important for health and day-to-day lives of people. However, air pollution is recognized as the single greatest environmental risk to human health and one of the main avoidable causes of death and disease globally in the 21st century.
The majority of people recognize the problem of bad air quality but only a few can pay attention to the health impact of air pollution. To emphasize the need to make further efforts to improve air quality all over the world, the UN General Assembly decided to designate 7 September as the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies. The theme for 2020 is “Clean Air for All”.
It is a global response to the increasing interest of the international community in clean air. We need a change, urgently and practically, to reduce air pollution and protect our health.
Watch the following YouTube video, UN Secretary-General António Guterres outlines why air pollution is a preventable risk. He calls for us to work together to build a better future with clean air forever.
“Around the world, nine out of every ten people breathe unclean air. Air pollution contributes to heart disease, strokes, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. It causes an estimated 7 million premature deaths every year, predominantly in low- and middle-income countries. Air pollution also threatens the economy, food security and the environment.
As we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the world needs to pay far greater attention to air pollution, which also increases the risks associated with COVID-19.
We must also urgently address the deeper threat of climate change. Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees will help reduce air pollution, death and disease. This year’s lockdowns have caused emissions to fall dramatically, providing a glimpse of cleaner air in many cities. But emissions are already rising again, in some places surpassing pre-COVID levels.
We need dramatic and systemic change. Reinforced environmental standards, policies and laws that prevent emissions of air pollutants are needed more than ever. Countries also need to end subsidies for fossil fuels. And, at the international level, countries need to cooperate to help each other transition to clean technologies.
I call on governments still providing finance for fossil fuel-related projects in developing countries to shift that support towards clean energy and sustainable transport. And I urge all countries to use post-COVID recovery packages to support the transition to healthy and sustainable jobs.
7 September, marks the first International Day of Clean Air for blue skies. Let us work together to build a better future with clean air for all.”