By: Bamidele Fashube
The United Nations(UN) says there is a rising level of emissions into the air, which surpasses the pre-COVID levels.
It said the lockdown, occasioned by the pandemic had drastically reduced emissions, providing cleaner air in many cities globally.
The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres in a message to mark the first International day of clean air said as the world recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, there is need to pay greater attention to air pollution, which also increases the risks associated with COVID-19.
According to him, 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,” says the Secretary General.
He stressed the need for reinforced environmental standards, policies and laws that prevent emissions of air pollutants, adding that countries need to end subsidies for fossil fuels.
“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,”he said.
Antonne says globally, nine out of every ten people breathe unclean air, noting that this 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,” he added.