Nairobi, March 15 (IANS) China and UN Environment will jointly hold the World Environment Day on air pollution, it was announced on Friday.
Head of the Chinese delegation Zhao Yingmin, who is the Vice Minister of Ecology and Environment, and UN Environment acting head Joyce Msuya announced here that China would host the World Environment Day on June 5 with air pollution as its theme.
Approximately seven million people worldwide die prematurely each year from air pollution and about four million of these deaths occur in the Asia-Pacific region.
The World Environment Day 2019 will urge the governments, industries, communities and individuals to come together to explore renewable energy and green technologies and improve air quality in the cities and regions across the world.
The government of China has committed to organise the World Environment Day across multiple cities and Hangzhou in Zhejiang province will host the main event.
The announcement came as environment ministers from across the globe got together for the world’s highest-level environmental forum in Nairobi.
Negotiations at the 4th UN Environment Assembly, which concluded on Friday, were held on ways to tackle critical issues such as stopping food waste and promoting the spread of electric cars.
Most Indian cities suffer from poor air quality which is a global public health emergency, UN Environment acting head Msuya told IANS.
“Living in cities should not mean living fewer years or losing cognitive capabilities or reducing the quality of life of our children.
“There is no magic fix. A range of actions must be taken by the individuals, city authorities and the governments and these should be based on science,” she said.
The UN Environment is trying to help fill the data gap by rolling out low-cost air quality monitoring systems. With better data, the policymakers can take informed decisions which can translate into quick improvements.
“We also have to look at what makes a city tick. How does it generate power? How do people move around? How is waste managed? Then we need to change consumption patterns and apply low-carbon strategies. That could be simple, like prohibiting waste burning, or complex, like building public transport infrastructure,” Msuya said.
According to her, China has demonstrated tremendous leadership in tackling air pollution domestically. It can now help spur the world to greater action.
“Air pollution is a global emergency affecting everyone. China will now lead the push and stimulate global action to save millions of lives,” she added.
With its growing green energy sector, China has emerged as a climate leader.
The country owns half the world’s electric vehicles and 99 per cent of the world’s electric buses.
According to a new UN report on air pollution in the Asia-Pacific region, implementing 25 technology policies could see up to 20 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide and 45 per cent reduction in methane emissions globally, leading to a third of a degree Celsius saving of global warming.
The World Environment Day is a UN Environment-led global event, which takes place on June 5 every year and is celebrated by thousands of communities worldwide.
Last year, India hosted the World Environment Day in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced to eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022.
Since the World Environment Day was first observed in 1972, it has grown to become the single largest celebration of our environment each year.
(Vishal Gulati is in Nairobi at the invitation of UN Environment. He can be contacted at [email protected])