The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on 24 May 2016 released the report titled Actions on Air Quality. The report was released during the second United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2).
As per the report, with the decline of the global air quality, action in some air quality areas points to political will to tackle this global public health emergency although current efforts still fall short.
Highlights of the report
• According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global urban air pollution levels increased by 8 percent between 2008 and 2013.
• More than 80 percent of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits, threatening lives, productivity and economies.
• The report found improvements in some areas such as access to cleaner cooking fuels and stoves, renewables, fuel sulphur content and public transport - pointing to a growing momentum for change.
• However, action in other areas is less impressive and will not halt the increase in air pollution that is threatening to claim many more lives.
• While policies and standards on clean fuels and vehicles could reduce emissions by 90 percent, only 29 percent of countries worldwide have adopted Euro 4 vehicles emissions standards or above.
• Less than 20 percent of countries regulate open waste burning, which is a leading cause of air pollution.
• On the positive side, 97 countries have increased the percentage of households that have access to cleaner burning fuels to more than 85 percent.
• At least 82 countries out of 193 have incentives that promote investment in renewable energy production, cleaner production, energy efficiency and pollution control equipment.
• The report, which looks at attempts to control Beijing's air pollution over a 15-year period, finds that steady improvements are being made.
• More than three billion people still use solid fuels and inefficient cook stoves, but the Seychelles was able to improve indoor air quality by transitioning the whole country from solid fuels to LPG.
• Only a quarter of countries have advanced fuels and vehicles standards, which can significantly reduce small particulate matter pollution, especially in cities.
• Electric cars have been on the increase, with strategies being developed in many countries around the world. One-third of all cars bought in Norway are now electric.
• Some countries and cities have been able to increase waste recycling, reducing the need to burn waste.
• The majority of countries around the world have now put in place national air quality standards. India, with major air quality challenges in many cities, has established air quality laws and regulation.
• Coal use fell from a peak of 9 million tonnes in 2005 to 6.44 million tonnes in 2013, while the 2013 levels of carbon monoxide dropped by 76 percent compared to 1998.
• The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) is the world's most powerful decision-making body on the environment, and responsible for tackling some of the most critical issues of our time.
• The assembly holds the power to dramatically change the fate of the planet and improve the lives of everyone, impacting everything from health to national security.
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