UN tackles air pollution on World Environment Day

Air pollution will be the centre of public attention today after it was chosen as the theme of the United Nations’ World Environment Day by host country China.

Throughout the day, the UN will be encouraging people to act to tackle air pollution and improve the quality of the air around them.

At least 6,198 events will be taking place worldwide to celebrate World Environment Day and raise awareness of the issues posed by air pollution, according to the UN’s website.

‘Air pollution kills 7 million people every year, hurts child development, damages economies and contributes to the global climate emergency,’ tweeted Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the UN as he announced World Environment Day.

‘On #WorldEnvironmentDay & every day, everyone can help #BeatAirPollution and take #ClimateAction.’

Air pollution is the theme of this year’s World Environment Day which takes place every 5 June. Credit: RecondOil (CC BY-SA 2.0)

World Environment Day was established by the UN in 1972 and takes place on 5 June each year, aiming to encourage awareness and action to protect the world’s environment.

This year’s edition of World Environment Day looks to raise awareness of the five main types of air pollution: household, industry, waste, agriculture, and transport.

Air pollution is one of the world’s largest threats to human health, killing around seven million people prematurely each year.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that nine out of ten people worldwide are exposed to levels of air pollutants that exceed safe levels.

These figures have led the WHO to dub air pollution the single largest environmental threat to global health.

The UN has called for governments to tackle air pollution by introducing measures such as taxing pollution and speeding up a transition to cleaner energy and transport systems.

‘It is time to act decisively,’ Guterres added. ‘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.’

To find out more about how you can celebrate World Environment Day and get involved in beating air pollution, you can visit the WED website here.