UN Secretary-General's message on the first International Day of Clean Air for blue skies

UN Secretary-General António Guterres outlines why air pollution is a preventable risk. He calls for us all to work together to build a better future with clean air for ever.

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United Nations Secretary General António Guterres

On 7 September 2020, for the first time ever, the world will join together to mark the UN's International Day of Clean Air for blue skies. The theme for 2020 is "Clean Air for All".

UN Secretary-General António Guterres outlines why air pollution is a preventable risk. He calls for us all to work together to build a better future with clean air for ever.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the first International Day of Clean Air for blue skies

UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the first International Day of Clean Air for blue skies
UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the first International Day of Clean Air for blue skies

“Around the world, nine out of every ten people breathe unclean air. Air pollution contributes to heart disease, strokes, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. It causes an estimated 7 million premature deaths every year, predominantly in low- and middle-income countries. Air pollution also threatens the economy, food security and the environment.

As we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the world needs to pay far greater attention to air pollution, which also increases the risks associated with COVID-19.

We must also urgently address the deeper threat of climate change. Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees will help reduce air pollution, death and disease. This year’s lockdowns have caused emissions to fall dramatically, providing a glimpse of cleaner air in many cities. But emissions are already rising again, in some places surpassing pre-COVID levels.

We need dramatic and systemic change. Reinforced environmental standards, policies and laws that prevent emissions of air pollutants are needed more than ever. Countries also need to end subsidies for fossil fuels. And, at the international level, countries need to cooperate to help each other transition to clean technologies.

I call on governments still providing finance for fossil fuel-related projects in developing countries to shift that support towards clean energy and sustainable transport. And I urge all countries to use post-COVID recovery packages to support the transition to healthy and sustainable jobs.

7 September, marks the first International Day of Clean Air for blue skies. Let us work together to build a better future with clean air for all.”

Background:

The UN's International Day of Clean Air for blue skies highlights that air pollution is now the greatest environmental threat to health, but it is preventable. We have the solutions and technology to change this. To improve our air quality we need everyone on board –from individuals to private companies to governments. 

Air pollution doesn’t have to be a part of our collective future. Cleaner air will make us healthier, protect nature and help achieve global climate change goals.

What are you doing to clear the air?

Join the conversation: #CleanAirForAll

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