Almost every person around the world regularly breathes in polluted air. This impacts health in a huge variety of ways, from inflammation to suppressing the immune system. Eventually, it can also result in heart diseases, lung cancer, respiratory diseases and strokes.
Overall, air pollution causes eight million premature deaths every year.
These statistics are shocking. They also show just how necessary it is for this issue to be tackled, and tackled quickly.
It’s not just human health that’s at risk, either. Most of the causes of air pollution, such as vehicles, factories, and agriculture, also contribute to climate change, putting the planet itself at risk.
Don’t worry. There’s a silver lining: both of these issues can be tackled at the same time if people work together.
‘Every Breath Counts’
This month, the international governing body for track and field athletics, World Athletics, launched a major campaign for stronger and more joined-up action to improve air quality. Called ‘Every Breath Counts’, it will emphasise how worsening air quality makes it harder to exercise outdoors.
Lots of policies can result in reduced air pollution, from ones that support sustainable land use, cleaner household energy and transport and power generation, to industry and better waste management.
This is why ‘Every Breath Counts’ will target local and national governments, as well as private sector actors, to show the scale of public concern around air pollution and the real-world negative impacts it is having on human health and economies.
They will be asked to sign the ‘Declaration for Clean Air’, pushing for more ambitious targets and better air quality monitoring.
“Athletics has always been about striving to achieve your best, and this campaign is about demanding better; I want to live in a world where everyone can breathe clean air,” said World Athletics’ president Sebastian Coe.
“It’s a simple ask, but sadly it’s a race against time to get there. As a runner, I want to ensure that future generations can experience the same freedom and joy that I’ve felt throughout my life.”
Clean Air and Net Zero
This follows recent research from UK100 that shows how tackling clean air and net-zero together will save money and lives.
Yes We CANZ: Local leaders delivering Clean Air and Net Zero introduces the concept of ‘Clean Air Net Zero’ (CANZ) — ensuring Net Zero policies include a clean air audit and vice versa.
The report identifies four key ‘win-win’ areas where clean air and net-zero policies need to be ‘urgently aligned’. These include transport, heating and improving energy-efficiency of homes, managing nitrogen and ammonia emissions in farming, and transparency.
Polly Billington, Chief Executive of UK100, commented, “From public transport to clean heating; from energy efficiency to farming, clean air and Net Zero goals are inexorably linked.
“Aligning clean air and climate policies will save lives and money while accelerating Net Zero progress. And that’s why we’re calling on the government to give local authorities the support they need to avoid past mistakes and deliver cleaner air, warmer homes and a more secure future for their communities.”
What We’re Doing to Help
At Play it Green, we know air pollution risks both human health and the climate. Reducing emissions does not just help the environment; it tackles the causes of air pollution right at their source.
By helping people and businesses lower their carbon footprint, we are part of the solution. This includes working with partners such as Iduna.
Transport causes a fifth of all emissions around the world, making it one of the critical issues that must be faced. Iduna is helping do just this by operating and expanding electric vehicle infrastructure across the North of England. Not only that, they have plans to create little parks, or ‘green oases’, around their charging points, making the air even cleaner.
Another one of our partners, Airly, is the leading cost-effective SaaS (sensing-as-a-service) solution for hyperlocal air quality monitoring and control.
Airly believes knowledge and education are the first steps toward successfully tackling air quality problems. Their comprehensive platform helps governments and businesses take bold action to reduce emissions and protect public health with the goal of making air quality visible and understandable to all.
While the effects of air pollution can be shocking or even frightening, all of these examples show how people are passionately working to solve the issue. And just like climate change, air pollution is an issue that’s best solved if we work together.
Find out how Play it Green can help you or your business