NEW DELHI: Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations (UN), emphasized the need for strong global efforts to tackle the problem of air pollution. He also proposed that the production of energy from fossil fuels subsidized by the governments should be shifted to clean energy generation.
In a video message on the first International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, Guterres said that globally, nine out of every ten people breathe unclean air. Air pollution leads to a number of diseases and causes an estimated 7 million premature deaths annually, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. He added that the world should give even greater attention to air pollution as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, underlining that air pollution often threatens the economy, food security, and the environment.
Urging for immediate measures to address the deeper threat of climate change, Guterres said that if global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees from pre-industrial levels, it would help to minimize air pollution, mortality, and disease. The lockdowns due to COVID-19 this year have significantly lowered pollution, offering a glimpse of cleaner air in many cities. He warned that emissions are increasing again, exceeding pre-COVID levels in some areas. To reduce the emissions from air pollutants, improved environmental standards, policies and law are required more than ever, Guterres said.
Guterres stated that the countries need to end fossil-fuel subsidies and work globally to support transition to clean technology. To support the transition to healthy and sustainable jobs, he urged all countries to use post-COVID recovery packages.