Achieving clean air across the world is possible, new study

Achieving clean air across the world is possible, according to a new study published in the journal Philosophical Transactions.

The researchers set out to examine the key determinants of air pollution in the past (for example, economic growth, technological development and environmental policy interventions). 

Having identified the key factors that contributed to historic air pollution trends in different world regions, the authors then outlined how conceivable changes in future development could impact air quality. 

The researchers found that in order to achieve clean air across the world, there needs to be integration over multiple policy domains, including environmental policies focusing on pollution controls, energy and climate policies, policies to transform the agricultural production system, and policies to modify human food consumption patterns

However, the authors emphasised that none of these policy areas alone can deliver clean air, and interventions need to be coordinated across sectors.

In addition, the researchers highlighted that such interventions would also simultaneously deliver a wide range of benefits on other policy priorities, while also making substantial contributions to human development in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Lead author of the study Markus Amann, IIASA Air Quality and Greenhouse Gases programme director, said: ‘Policy interventions were instrumental in decoupling energy-related air pollution from economic growth in the past, and further interventions will determine future air quality.

‘Theoretically, a portfolio of ambitious policy interventions could bring ambient PM2.5 concentrations below the WHO air quality guideline in most parts of the world, except in areas where natural sources such as soil dust, contribute major shares to or even exceed the current guideline value.

‘Even if WHO air quality standards are currently exceeded by more than a factor of 10 in many parts of the world, clean air is achievable globally with enhanced political will.

‘The required measures, in addition to their local health benefits, would also contribute to the long-term transformational changes that are required for global sustainable development.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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