In his message on the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, Guterres called on all countries for more actions to curb pollution-generating activities.
Today, as many as nine out of 10 people breathe polluted air, leading to some 7 million premature deaths each year, of whom 600,000 are children. ¨Unless we act decisively, this number could double by 2050, Guterres stressed.
The UNSG pointed out that like many societal ills, air pollution reflects global inequalities, with most deaths related to air pollution occurring in low- and middle-income countries, and in poorest neighborhoods in wealthier nations.
Poverty forces people to live close to sources of pollution, like factories and highways, said Guterres, noting that poverty makes 3 billion people continue to burn solid fuels or kerosene for cooking, heating and lighting.
¨The pollution that is damaging our health is also driving the climate crisis.¨
Stronger emission standards on vehicles, power plants, construction and industries can cut pollution, and access to clean cooking and clean heating sources also needs to be accelerated, he said.
¨We must invest in renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. Coal use must be phased out, just as it is urgent to make a transition to zero emission vehicles,¨ he added.
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