The National Academies of Sciences and Medicine from South Africa, Brazil, Germany and the US have joined forces in a call to action on harmful air pollution.
The academies were calling for a new global compact to improve collaboration on the growing problem and for governments, businesses and citizens to reduce air pollution in all countries.
The four countries’ academies launched their call with the publication of a science policy statement, which was handed over to senior United Nations representatives and high-level diplomats from each country, on Wednesday.
The statement included a request for emissions controls in all countries and proper monitoring of key pollutants, especially PM2.5, which is one of the smallest particulates in the air that people breathe.
The science academies specified the need for increased funding to tackle the problem and substantial investment in measures to reduce air pollution, which should, in turn, help to reduce climate change and contribute to meeting the goal of limiting the average global warming to less than 1.5 ˚C above pre-industrial levels.
According to Academy of Science of South Africa, unequivocal scientific evidence showed that air pollution affected human health. The global economic burden of disease caused by air pollution across 176 countries in 2015 had been estimated at $3.8-trillion.
Burning of fossil fuels and biomass for heat, power, transport and food production was the main source of air pollution.
The academies state that both private and public investments were insufficient and did not match the scale of the problem. “Air pollution is preventable. With sufficient action, suffering and deaths from dirty air can be avoided. Clean air is as vital to life on earth as clean water. Air pollution control and reduction must now be a priority for all.”