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Bringing Clean Air to 4 Billion People in Asia

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As the lives lost to COVID-19 edge closer to 5 million globally, policymakers have demonstrated sharply growing interest in how protecting biodiversity, mitigating climate change, and addressing other planetary crises can improve public health. One planetary crisis that benefited temporarily from COVID-19 lockdowns but requires more sustainable solutions is air pollution. According to 2019 data, air pollution accounted for about 6.75 million premature deaths. While all regions need to step up efforts to reduce this figure, Asia and the Pacific – a region where about 90 percent of its population, or 4 billion people, are exposed to levels of air pollution posing a significant health risk – has the most to gain from concerted efforts to clean the air.

Earlier this month, more than 500 policymakers, researchers, and representatives from the development community convened for a set of virtual interactive sessions as part of the Third Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership (APCAP) Joint Forum. The Joint Forum is an event organized by the United Nations Environment Program to help showcase and share innovative approaches to controlling air pollution. A key message that emerged from the Joint Forum and should resonate far beyond the environmental community is that breaking down boundaries between countries, regions, and stakeholders is critical to a healthy planet and people.

Some of the air pollution solutions that can help protect the planet and people are well known in Asia. Many of the main sources of harmful emissions come quickly to mind, such as coal-fired plants or motorized........

© The Diplomat

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