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UN chief calls air pollution 'global emergency'

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-09-08 10:35
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Pedestrians covering their faces walk on a street in New York, the United States, on June 7, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

UNITED NATIONS - Air pollution is a global emergency, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday, urging the international community to act together for clean air.

Guterres made the appeal in his message to mark the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, which falls on Sept 7 annually.

He pointed out that 99 percent of humanity breathes air laced with soot, sulphur and other toxic chemicals, with low- and middle-income countries suffering the highest exposures.

Every year, 7 million people die prematurely as a result, and air pollution is intimately linked to global heating, he added.

Guterres noted that air pollution knows no borders, and can travel thousands of kilometers, spreading contaminates with the wind.

"Global problems require global solutions. We must act together for clean air," he said.

The UN chief underscored the need to accelerate "a just and equitable transition away" from fossil fuels, particularly coal, toward clean renewable energy.

"We must also support the transition to clean cooking and electric vehicles," he said. "We must encourage walking and cycling in cities, and put in place systems to make responsible waste management second nature. And we must act on the pledge to reduce methane emissions."

The UN General Assembly in December 2019 established Sept 7 as the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, underscoring the importance of clean air for the health and day-to-day lives of all.

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