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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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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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Mourners Gather in Iceland to Commemorate the Loss of the Glacier Okjokull

Iceland glacier commemorated with plaque

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Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as glacier. Pixabay

Mourners will gather in Iceland on Sunday to commemorate the loss of the glacier Okjokull, which was officially declared dead in 2014 at the age of 700. The glacier was officially declared dead when it was no longer thick enough to move. What once was glacier has been reduced to a small patch of ice atop a volcano, the BBC reported.

Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Environment Minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson and former Irish President Mary Robinson will all take part in a commemoration ceremony later in the day. After opening remarks by Jakobsdottir at the ceremony, mourners will walk up the volcano northeast of the capital Reykjavik to lay a plaque which carries a letter to the future.

“Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as glacier,” it reads. “In the next 200 years all our main glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. “Only you know if we did it.”

The dedication, written by Icelandic author Andri Snaer Magnason, ends with the date of the ceremony and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air globally – 415 parts per million (ppm). “This is a big symbolic moment,” Magnason told the BBC on Saturday.

“Climate change doesn’t have a beginning or end and I think the philosophy behind this plaque is to place this warning sign to remind ourselves that historical events are happening, and we should not normalise them. We should put our feet down and say, okay, this is gone, this is significant.”

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Irish President Mary Robinson will all take part in a commemoration ceremony later in the day. Pixabay

Oddur Sigurdsson, the glaciologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office who pronounced Okjokull’s death in 2014, has been taking photographs of the country’s glaciers for the past 50 years, and noticed in 2003 that snow was melting before it could accumulate on Okjokull. Glaciers have great cultural significance in Iceland and beyond.

Also Read: Can Huawei’s HarmonyOS be Successful Outside China?

Snaefellsjokull, a glacier-capped volcano in the west of the country, is where characters in Jules Verne’s science fiction novel “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” found a passage to the core of the planet. That glacier is now also receding. (IANS)