Insights

Wednesday, 5th June 2019

World Environment Day 2019

Wednesday 5 June 2019 marks World Environment Day, which is celebrated each year by thousands of communities across the world and is the largest single celebration of the environment each year. World Environment Day seeks to educate the public on issues of concern, mobilise political will and resources in order to address global problems and celebrate achievements so far. The theme for World Environment Day 2019, hosted in China, is Air Quality, to increase awareness of the global challenges we are facing with regards to poor air quality.

Nine out of ten people across the world are exposed to levels of air pollutants that exceed safe levels which are set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Often people are unaware that they are in an area of poor air quality, which can be created by a number of sources including;

  • Household activities ( e.g. burning of fossil fuels to provide heat and light)
  • Industry ( e.g. energy production using fossil fuels, manufacturing processes such as for steel, cement and petrochemical, oil and gas exploration)
  • Transport (emissions from road transport, rail, shipping, aviation and construction machinery )
  • Agriculture (e.g. use of fertilisers, burning of agricultural waste and use of agricultural machinery)
  • Waste (e.g. waste incineration and from landfill sites)
  • Natural (volcanic eruptions, sea salt and dust storms)
  • Transboundary transport of pollutants between countries and even continents

The United Nations have reported that air pollution is the single largest, environmentally related global health risk of our time, responsible for approximately 6.5 million deaths per year across the globe. BreathLife is an initiative set up by the United Nations to mobilise cities to create policies which will protect human health and the planet from the effects of air pollution. To learn more about this initiative or to get involved, visit: https://breathelife2030.org/

How much do you know about the state of global air quality? (Friends of the Earth 2017)

  • Poor air quality can increase people’s risk of heart disease and strokes, making it one of the UK’s biggest killers
  • Air quality in London regularly exceeds health-based WHO thresholds
  • According to the World Bank the global cost of air pollution is US$225 billion annually

What are the UK and Temple doing to tackle poor air quality?

In January 2019 the UK Government launched a Clean Air Strategy (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches-world-leading-plan-to-tackle-air-pollution) . The plan will set an ambitious long-term target for the UK, seeking to reduce people’s exposure to particulate matter (PM) which the WHO have identified as the most damaging pollutant. The government will do this by providing guidance on how to deliver development without breaching the WHO guidelines, devolve new powers to local authorities and bring in new primary legislation tackling all sources of poor air quality.
Temple’s Air Quality team support both the public and private sector providing innovative practical and policy solutions to identify air quality issues and develop effective measures to mitigate these.