World Environment Day is held on June 5 and helps inspire action on urgent environmental issues. This year the theme is #BeatAirPollution. Air pollution not only impacts our health but also causes global warming.
The UN estimates that if we reduce emissions from air pollutants, we could slow global warming by up to 0.5 degrees celcius over the next few decades. According to UN Environment, over half of the world's population live in urban areas, but only 12 per cent of cities have air quality measures that meet the World Health Organisation Standards.
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There are two types of air pollution, indoor (household) air pollution caused by cooking stoves, heating and lighting, and outdoor (ambient) air pollution caused by emissions from power generation, transport, industrial furnaces, brick kilns, wildfires, agriculture, dust and sandstorms.
This year World Environment Day looks to encourage everyone to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the amount of air pollution we produce.
There are so many things that we can do from cycling or walking to work, recycling your non-organic trash, to encouraging your local council to improve green spaces in your city. Here are some tips from UN Environment on how you can advocate for better air quality:
- Turn off lights and electronics not in use
- Check efficiency ratings for home heating systems and cookstoves so that models that save money and protect health are used
- Never burn trash, as this contributes directly to air pollution
- Provide clean cooking and heating stoves to rural communities
- Use cleaner-burning fuels
- Switch to clean diesel and improved engines for transport and freight
- Have stricter vehicle emissions and efficiency standards
- Switch from kerosene lamps to clean lighting technologies like solar lights
- Prioritise the use of walking, cycling or rapid urban transit over cars
- Support industries that use clean technologies
- Invest in renewable energy