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Air quality groups call on COP28 President Dr Al Jaber to put air pollution ‘firmly on the agenda’

COP28 opens in the United Arab Emirates in exactly 100 days and to mark that landmark, a letter addressed to this year’s President, Dr Al Jaber is being delivered to the UAE embassy in London, demanding greater action on improving air quality. 

The letter will be delivered  by the Clean Air Fund on behalf of a group of organisations including  Asthma + Lung UK, the Global Climate and Health Alliance, the World Heart Federation and Clean Air Asia.

It begins by congratulating the organisers for hosting the first COP Health day but goes on to say: ‘…this risks being an empty promise if the conference does not deliver substantive progress in tackling air pollution as the most tangible issue at the nexus of climate and health.’

The letter also reminds the President of the five major interventions suggested by The Global Alliance on Health and Pollution’s 2020 report:

• Replacing coal with renewable sources of energy for total power production
• Replacing diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles with electric vehicles in both the public and private sector
• Eliminating uncontrolled diesel emissions
• Preventing crop burning
• Preventing forest fires

Another part of letter takes aim at a comment made earlier this year by Al Jaber (who is juggling the COP28 Presidency with his other job as the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company).

When he used the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in May to announce: ”We must be laser focused on phasing out fossil fuel emissions…’ his use of the word ’emissions’  was widely taken to imply that the UAE had no intention of phasing out fossil fuels themselves but instead would work on mitigation strategies. 

The letter addresses this: ‘The main drivers of air pollution are also sources of greenhouse gases, the largest culprit being the combustion of fossil fuels. This interconnectedness means that a full stop to burning fossil fuels is essential to unlock the enormous co-benefits of clean air. We emphasise that this cannot be achieved by carbon capture technologies, which do not address toxic pollutants and particulates, such as black carbon which also accelerates warming.’

Read the full text of the letter here

Image: UN Climate Change

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