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UN Urges Asian Countries to Make Transition to Clean Energy to Curb Global Climate Crisis

There is an extraordinary global focus in what is going on in Southeast Asia, and Asia more broadly, and it really is in this region where we will succeed

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Rachel Kyte, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sustainable Energy and head of Sustainable Energy for All, and Luis Alfonso de Alba, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit, made this request in a video conference with journalists from Indonesia. Pixabay

The UN on Friday urged Asian countries, which have more than two-thirds of the world’s 2,400 coal plants, to make a transition to clean energy to curb the global climate crisis.

Rachel Kyte, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy and head of Sustainable Energy for All, and Luis Alfonso de Alba, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit, made this request in a video conference with journalists from Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea.

“There is an extraordinary global focus in what is going on in Southeast Asia, and Asia more broadly, and it really is in this region where we will succeed or failed in the energy transition” from fossil fuels to renewable energy, Kyte was quoted as saying by Efe news.

Kyte defended the financial viability, even for developing nations, of ceasing the construction of new coal-based plants by 2020, as urged by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

UN, Asian Countries, Clean Energy
The UN on Friday urged Asian countries, which have more than two-thirds of the world’s 2,400 coal plants, to make a transition to clean energy to curb the global climate crisis. Pixabay

“There is really no future for coal, it is not competitive by price over the life cycle or an investment in power generation and it has such an extreme impact in human health as well as in the planet,” the UN expert said.

China tops the list of countries in the world with the highest number of coal-based plants under construction with 132, followed by India (with 33) Indonesia (23), Japan (15), Vietnam (9) and the Philippines (8), according to watchdog group Global Energy Monitor.

China also has 1,032 coal-fired power plants in operation, followed by the US with 296 and India with 291, the report said.

Kyte said that coal financing has become increasingly difficult due to opposition from international development banks and some private banks, which has led to the construction of many power plant projects being cancelled, although there are still others planned.

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The expert also stressed the need to invest in more efficient energy systems as 40 per cent of emissions can be prevented through appropriate technology and advocated an end to fossil fuel subsidies.

Meanwhile, Luis de Alba said he was working on financing packages to support the energy transition.

The UN representatives also invited governments to present concrete and long-term energy proposals during the climate summit in New York on September 23. (IANS)

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Toxicity in Air Affects Children’s Brain Development: UNICEF

UNICEF has warned that air pollution affects a child's brain development

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Brain Development
According to UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, air pollution toxicity can affect children's brain development. Pixabay

Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore has warned that air pollution toxicity can affect children’s brain development and called for urgent action to deal with the crisis gripping India and South Asia.

“I saw first-hand how children continue to suffer from the dire consequences of air pollution,” Fore, who recently visited India, said on Wednesday.

“The air quality was at a crisis level. You could smell the toxic fog even from behind an air filtration mask,” she added.

Air pollution affects children most severely and its effects continue all their lives because they have smaller lungs, breathe twice as fast as adults and lack immunities, Fore said.

Brain Development
Air pollution damages brain tissue and undermines brain development in babies and young children. Pixabay

She added that it “damages brain tissue and undermines cognitive development in babies and young children, leading to lifelong consequences that can affect their learning outcomes and future potential. There is evidence to suggest that adolescents exposed to higher levels of air pollution are more likely to experience mental health problems”.

“Unicef is calling for urgent action to address this air quality crisis,” affecting 620 million children in South Asia.

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Schools were closed in Delhi till Tuesday because of the severe environmental situation caused by post-harvest burning of stubble in neighbouring states.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) on Sunday touched 625, considered “severe plus” level. (IANS)