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UN Organizations Announce “Clean Air Initiative”; Urge Governments Participation

"We need all countries and cities to commit to meeting WHO standards for air quality," he said

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climate change catastrophe
Greenhouse gases have continued to climb, and "climate change is occurring much faster than anticipated," the report said. Pixabay

Ahead of the 2019 Climate Action Summit, the United Nations, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UN Environment and Climate and Clean Air Coalition on Tuesday announced the clean air initiative and urged governments participation.

The announcement was made by Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Climate Action Summit, here after two-day meetings with representatives of governments, business and civil society.

“The climate and the air pollution crisis are driven by the same factors and must be tackled by joint actions. The governments at all levels have both an urgent need and huge opportunity not only to address the climate crisis, but also to improve the health and save the lives of millions of people around the world, all while making progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said the Ambassador.

clean air initiative
“We call on governments at all levels to step up to this challenge and bring powerful commitments and concrete plans to the upcoming Climate Action Summit,” de Alba said. Pixabay

“We call on governments at all levels to step up to this challenge and bring powerful commitments and concrete plans to the upcoming Climate Action Summit,” de Alba said.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said, “Air pollution kills about 7 million people every year. Nine out of 10 people globally breathe the air that’s not fit for human use. We need to agree unequivocally on the need for a world free of air pollution.”

“We need all countries and cities to commit to meeting WHO standards for air quality,” he said. UN Secretary-General António Guterres is convening the Climate Action Summit in New York on September 23 and has called on the government, business and civil society leaders to bring bold actions and much greater ambition.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also attend the summit. The clean air initiative calls on national and sub-national governments to commit to achieving air quality that is safe for citizens, and to align climate change and air pollution policies by 2030.

Climate Change, clean air initiative
This combination of Dec. 13 and 17, 2018 photos shows downtown Salt Lake City during clear and an inversion day. VOA

According to the World Bank, air pollution costs the global economy around $5.11 trillion in welfare losses. In the 15 countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions, health impacts of pollution are estimated to be 4 per cent of the GDP.

ALSO READ: UN Appeals Nations to Reduce Carbon Emissions by 45 Percent by 2030

Meeting the Paris Agreement on climate change, however, could save over 1 million lives a year by 2050 and yield health benefits worth $54.1 trillion, twice the costs of mitigation, through reduced air pollution alone.

Governments at all levels can join the initiative by committing to specific actions, including implementing air quality and climate change policies that will achieve the WHO ambient air quality guideline values. The initiative comprises implementing e-mobility and sustainable mobility policies and actions with the aim of making a decisive impact on road transport emissions. (IANS)

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Here’s how Carbon Footprint Can be Reduced in India

Carbon footprint in India can be reduced by 20%

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Carbon global warming

BY VISHAL GULATI

The report focuses on the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the two most carbon-intensive products — passenger cars and residential buildings.

Producing and using materials more efficiently to build passenger cars and residential homes could cut carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions between 2016 and 2060 by up to 25 gigaton across the Group of Seven (G7) member states, the International Resource Panel (IRP) finds in a summary for policymakers released here on Wednesday.

This is more than double the annual emissions from all the world’s coal-fuelled power plants.

The IRP finds that emissions from the production of materials like metals, wood, minerals and plastics more than doubled over the 20-year period to 2015, accounting for almost one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon products cars
Majority of carbon-intensive products are used in manufacturing cars. Pixabay

It warns that without boosting material efficiency, it will be almost impossible and substantially more expensive to keep global heating below 1.5 degrees Celsius — the more ambitious of the two Paris climate targets.

The IRP Summary for Policymakers, Resource Efficiency and Climate Change: Material Efficiency Strategies for a Low-Carbon Future, prepared at the request of the G7, is the first comprehensive scientific analysis estimating total cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in homes and cars that can be achieved through material efficiency.

Together, the construction and manufacturing sectors are responsible for an estimated 80 per cent of emissions generated by the first use of materials.

Using strategies and technologies that already exist, G7 countries could save up to 170 million tons of carbon emissions from residential homes in 2050.

India could save 270 million tons, and China could save 350 million tons in 2050 in this same sector.

If we look at the full lifecycle of cars, material efficiency strategies could help G7 countries, China and India reduce GHG emissions by up to 450 million tons each in 2050. These reductions can help countries stay within their carbon budget.

Extending the lifetime of products, reusing components, substituting or using less material, and making more intensive use of materials by, for example, ride-sharing, are all strategies that G7 countries could implement today to tackle global warming.

“Climate mitigation efforts have traditionally focused on enhancing energy efficiency and accelerating the transition to renewables. While this is still key, this report shows that material efficiency can also deliver big gains,” UN Environment Executive Director Inger Andersen said.

The IRP finds that the carbon footprint of the production of materials for cars could be cut by up to 70 per cent in G7 countries, and 60 per cent in China and 50 per cent in India in 2050.

The largest emission savings from passenger vehicles come from a change in how people use cars, like car-pooling and car-sharing, and a move away from large SUVs.

Greenhouse gases carbon
The construction and manufacturing sectors are responsible for an estimated 80 per cent of emissions generated by the first use of materials. Pixabay

The report also shows that greenhouse gas emissions from the production of materials for residential buildings in the G7, China and India could be reduced between 50 and 80 per cent in 2050 with greater material efficiency.

The most promising strategies include more intensive use of space e.g. reducing demand for floor space, switching out concrete and masonry for sustainably produced wood, improving recycling, and building lighter homes using less carbon-intensive steel, cement and glass.

Reducing demand for floor space in the G7 by up to 20 per cent could lower greenhouse gas emissions from the production of materials by up to 73 per cent in 2050.

Shared homes, smaller units, and downsizing when children move out lead to these big reductions.

The cuts revealed by the report are on top of emission savings generated by the decarbonisation of electricity supply, the electrification of home energy use, and the shift towards electric and hybrid vehicles.

Many of these emission reductions will only be possible if countries create enabling policy environments and incentives, the report says.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres wants countries to increase the ambition of their climate targets at the ongoing UN climate change negotiations (COP25) that entered its final stage in this Spanish capital.

Also Read- 86 Fashion Companies Partner with Political Leaders to Deliver Climate Action

The IRP report urges policymakers to integrate material efficiency into their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to set higher emission reduction targets that will limit the damage from global warming.

Currently, only Japan, India, China, and Turkey mention resource efficiency, resources management, material efficiency, circular economy or consumption side instruments as explicit mitigation measures in their NDCs. (IANS)