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China to host World Environment Day 2019 on air pollution

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-03-16 05:52

China will be the host of the 2019 global World Environment Day celebrations on June 5 at Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, on the theme of air pollution.

This announcement was jointly made by Zhao Yingmin, the head of Chinese delegation at the fourth United Nations Environment Assembly and Joyce Msuya, the acting director of United Nations Environment Programme on March 15, 2019.

“China will be a great global host of 2019’s World Environment Day celebrations. The country has demonstrated tremendous leadership in tackling air pollution domestically. It can now help spur the world to greater action,” Msuya said.

She said air pollution is a global emergency affecting everyone and that China will now be leading the push and stimulating global action to save millions of lives.

Approximately 7 million people worldwide die prematurely each year from air pollution, with about 4 million of these deaths occurring in Asia-Pacific.

World Environment Day 2019 is therefore expected to urge governments, industry, communities, and individuals to come together to explore renewable energy and green technologies, and improve air quality in cities and regions across the world.

With its growing green energy sector, China has emerged as a climate leader. The country owns half of the world’s electric vehicles and 99 percent of the world’s electric buses, according to UN.

By hosting the World Environment Day 2019, the Chinese government will be able to showcase its innovation and progress toward a cleaner environment.

According to a new UN report titled, A Review of 20 Years’ Air Pollution Control in Beijing, air pollution in Beijing was dominated by coal-combustion and motor vehicles in 1998. Major pollutants exceeded national limits.

In 2013, the capital city adopted more systematic and intensive measures. By the end of 2017 fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) had fallen by 35 per cent in Beijing and by 25 per cent in the surrounding Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. Much of this reduction came from measures to control coal-fired boilers, provide cleaner domestic fuels and industrial restructuring.

Over this period, annual emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM10) and volatile organic compounds in Beijing decreased by 83 per cent, 43 per cent, 55 per cent and 42 per cent respectively.

Speaking during the report launch event on March 9 at the UN offices in Nairobi, Kenya, Dechen Tsering, director of UN Environment’s Asia Pacific Regional Office, said Beijing has achieved impressive air quality improvements in a short time.

“Beijing offers a good example of how a large city in a developing country can balance environmental protection and economic growth.”

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