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United Nations Votes to Take Action on Air Quality

July 1, 2014
Environmental Protection

smokeThe UN’s Environment Assembly (UNEA) identified air quality as an issue that requires immediate action by the international community at its latest meeting in Nairobi last week.

The inaugural UNEA event was attended by representatives from 160 countries including Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Delegates unanimously agreed to encourage governments to set standards and policies across multiple sectors to reduce emissions and manage the negative impacts of air pollution on health, the economy and sustainable development. The UNEP was also given a mandate to give support in attempting to remove obstacles to progress and provide data and information.

UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP executive director, Achim Steiner, said “Poor air quality is a growing challenge, especially in cities and urban centres, compromising the lives of millions worldwide. Action to reduce air pollution will save lives and provide co-benefits for the climate, ecosystem services, biodiversity and food security.”

The UN action comes at the same time as a report issued by the European Environment Agency (EEA) highlighted the effect of nitrogen and sulphur-containing pollutants on ecosystems. Whilst there is still cause for concern, researchers have found that acidification has been greatly reduced since it hit a peak in the 1980s when almost 50% of sensitive ecosystems were affected. Current estimates suggest the figure is now in the region of 5%.

You can view a copy of ‘Effects of Air Pollution on European Ecosystems’ here