Nitrogen pollution is one of the biggest environmental issues faced by humans today and requires urgent action from nations around the world, the UN Environment agency said on Monday.
Its Frontiers report, launched ahead of the UN Environment high-level assembly beginning here on March 11, explores environmental issues that will have profound effects on society, economy and ecosystems, along with some novel solutions.
By scanning the technological and environmental horizons, the report identifies five major topics — synthetic biology, ecological connectivity, permafrost peatlands, nitrogen pollution and maladaptation to climate change.
Nitrogen is essential for life but excess nitrogen pollution has tremendous consequences on humans and the environment, the report said. In the form of nitrous oxide, for example, it is 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, in addition to the effects of various nitrogen compounds on air quality and the ozone layer.
“Altogether, humans are producing a cocktail of reactive nitrogen that threatens health, climate and ecosystems, making nitrogen one of the most important pollution issues facing humanity,” the report warns.
“Yet the scale of the problem remains largely unknown and unacknowledged outside scientific circles,” it adds. (IANS)
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.
“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.