UN SG urges decisive action to save environment

UNITED NATIONS, The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged world governments to take decisive steps to save environment on the occasion of World Environment Day.

“Today, we face an equally urgent crisis. It is time to act decisively. My message to governments is clear: tax pollution; end fossil fuel subsidies; and stop building new coal plants. We need a green economy not a grey economy,” he said in his message on the occasion.

The United Nations designated 5th June as World Environment Day. Since it began in 1974, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in more than 100 countries.

Highlighting the issue of ‘air pollution,’ the theme for this year’s World Environment Day, the Secretary-General’s message continued to say that all around the world � from megacities to small villages � people are breathing dirty air. An estimated nine out of ten people worldwide are exposed to air pollutants that exceed World Health Organization air quality guidelines. This is lowering life expectancy and damaging economies across the planet.

This polluted air kills some 7 million people each year, causes long term health problems, such as asthma, and reduces children’s cognitive development. According to the World Bank, air pollution costs societies more than US$5 trillion every year.

Many air pollutants also cause global warming. Black carbon is one such example. Produced by diesel engines, burning trash and dirty cookstoves, it is extremely harmful when inhaled. Reducing emissions of such pollutants will not only improve public health, it could alleviate global warming by up to 0.5 degrees Celsius over the next few decades.

Guterres ended his message with this appeal: “On World Environment Day, I ask each of us to act so we can breathe more easily. From pressuring politicians and businesses to changing our own habits, we can reduce pollution and beat climate change.”

Source: Emirates News Agency