‘Put Air Pollution Firmly on COP28 Agenda’
climate emissions
Fossil fuel combustion is a leading source of global warming and harmful air pollution.

Almost 50 organisations have written to the head of the upcoming United Nations climate change meeting, Conference of the Parties (COP) 28, calling for substantive progress against air pollution, which they describe as “the nexus of climate and health”.

With 100 days to go until COP28 in the United Arab Emirates, the groups organised by the Clean Air Fund, have written to president-designate Dr Ahmed Al Jaber, asking him to “put air pollution firmly on the agenda and to catalyse national commitments and international funding to improve air quality”.

“Air pollution is a pervasive public health crisis and an accelerator of climate change,” the letter notes.

The letter anticipates that the global stocktake process to evaluate progress towards meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, which concludes at COP28, “will be a devastating reality check, showing that countries are massively off track from their commitments”.

“Ninety-nine percent of the world’s population breathes air that fails to meet WHO guidelines. The main drivers of air pollution are also sources of greenhouse gases, the largest culprit being the combustion of fossil fuels. 

“This interconnectedness means that a full stop to burning fossil fuels is essential to unlock the enormous co-benefits of clean air. We emphasise that clean air cannot be solely achieved by carbon capture technologies, which do not address all toxic pollutants and particulates, such as black carbon which also accelerates warming. Only measures which result in better air quality will deliver the public health co-benefits of climate action.”

The letter reaffirms the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution’s most effective interventions to reduce fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and carbon dioxide emissions to improve heath involve replacing coal with renewable sources of energy for total power production; replacing diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles with electric vehicles; eliminating uncontrolled diesel emissions and preventing crop burning and forest fires.

It adds a further demand for “comprehensive air quality monitoring to demonstrate progress towards WHO Air Quality Guideline levels and campaigns to demonstrate the benefits of clean air to health, families, and communities to further build public support for climate action”.

“COP28 must deliver tangible progress to end all fossil fuel subsidies, as a way to unlock progress across the negotiations,” the signatories state.

A recent report from the World Health Organization noted that the global high emissions trajectory continues, nine million people per year will die annually from climate-related causes by the end of the century.


Image Credits: Ella Ivanescu/ Unsplash, Chris LeBoutillier.

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