World Environment Day was celebrated around the world, with cleanups in Tokyo, tree plantations in Zimbabwe, or massive bike rides in Peru and Brazil. Efforts to reduce air pollution were the focus of the day, and China was the headquarters of the action.
Chinese President Xi Jinping was clear in his call for international cooperation: “Humanity has only one planet. Conservation of the environment and sustainable development are the common responsibility of all countries. China will work with everyone to implement the 2030 Agenda and protect our only planet. "
Every year, 7 million people die from air pollution. Action against air pollution cannot be postponed and everyone is called upon to find solutions to this global problem.
Hundreds of thousands of people took to social media to participate in the World Environment Day Mask Challenge, including government leaders. Many vowed to change their lifestyles to clean the air in their cities. The hashtags # WorldEnvironmentDay and # DíaMundialdelMedioAmbiente were among the top of the global trend for much of the day.
Celebrities from around the world got involved. American actor Adrian Grenier shared a selfie with his dog Pip, both doing the mask challenge, and vowed to install a solar thermal system on the roof to reduce their dependence on carbon energy. British singer Ellie Goulding, who has suffered from asthma her entire life, also shared her photo of the challenge and promised her fans that she would not give up the fight for clean air.
Some of the largest Swiss textile companies launched the “Made in Switzerland” label for sustainable garments. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a ban on single-use plastics in national parks, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country will accelerate plans to eradicate the use of coal by 2030.
In Europe, the celebrations began with the launch of the report "Air Pollution and Human Health: The Case of the Western Balkans" in Sarajevo, and the launch of the Sarajevo Air app, which helps citizens plan a trip avoiding the most polluted areas of the city.
In the Middle East, youth-led flashmobs drew attention to the issue of air pollution in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, just before the start of the Eid-Al Fitr festivities.
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera announced a plan to make the country carbon neutral by 2050, and India launched the world's first particulate emissions trading plan and joined the Clean Air and Climate Coalition.
Nine governments, including Honduras, Mexico, the Principality of Monaco and the cities of Bogotá and Montevideo, joined the Respira la Vida campaign, jointly led by UN Environment, the World Health Organization, the Climate and Air Coalition Clean and the World Bank.
The battle continues
But there is still much more to do. As UN Secretary General António Guterres said in his special message for the day, "there are solutions."
"There is no time to lose. This is the battle of our lives. We must and can earn it. There are solutions. We tax pollution, not people. Let's stop subsidizing fossil fuels. Let's stop building new coal plants, ”Guterres said.
“All over the world, people are calling for action. On this World Environment Day, let us heed their request ”, he added.
Real change will come from action taken by individuals, businesses and governments, such as the largest taxi company in Indonesia, which has promised to convert much of its fleet to electric, or the thousands of people who promised to plant trees and use the bicycle more. often.
The World Health Organization states that the most common sources of air pollution are agriculture, transportation, industry, waste, and the domestic combustion of fuels. That means that each of us has a role to play in the fight for a #NoAirPollution Planet.
Cities like Beijing have already shown the world that annual emissions, such as average concentrations of PM 2.5, can be reduced 35% in just four years through strict policies on emissions from industries and vehicles, and the boost in electric mobility. Others can do the same.
"We have just wrapped up an excellent World Environment Day in which hundreds of thousands of individuals around the world demonstrated that it is possible to combat air pollution and commit to act for people and the planet," said Joyce Msuya, Interim Executive Director of the UN. Environment.
“But the action is just beginning and we look forward to working with partners, cities, governments, citizens, civil society and the private sector to achieve our goal of clean air for everyone, everywhere. There cannot be a more basic need for humanity than this, ”Msuya added.
Source: United Nations