Topic 2 Reduction of environmental pollution

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Air pollution produced by traffic causes serious health issues. Studies conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) show that there is correlation between respiratory disease and busy roads that are taken by heavy vehicles or trucks. Especially children living near these roads are at high risk of respiratory disease. Most studies comment that traffic-generated air pollutants’ affect negatively on health, with an increased health risk of about 50%.

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The infographic “Air pollution - the silent killer” developed by WHO

Roadside air pollution is rapidly deteriorating all over the world and is mainly caused by road transport. One of the ways to improve the situation is known as Transport Management Solutions and aims to improve traffic congestion and manage transport demand in order to reduce vehicular emission.

Below you can see a video focusing on the situation within Hong Kong.

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Picture by the official account of Clear Channel UK:

Many European cities are trying to reduce air pollution in different ways. In England and the Netherlands for example, and specifically Leicester and Utrecht, green roofs on bus stops are designed to attract pollinating bees. With this feat, they city councils are seeking to become carbon neutral by 2030 and 2028, respectively. The “Bee Bus Stops” are part of the Living Roofs’ plan, which has been designed in conjunction with outdoor advertising site Clear Channel, and that may provide inspiration for those wishing to add small green roofs to outdoor structures.

The shelters will make a positive contribution to biodiversity and climate resilience, absorb rainwater falling on the canopy, contribute to reducing the urban heat island effect and help make the cities greener places.

Did you know that every year in the month of September, cities across the globe celebrate World Car-Free day? This encourages people to give up their cars for a day to reduce air pollution and promote walking and cycling in a safer environment!

“Most cities have been designed around mobility for cars, and it is high time we change this and start designing cities around human mobility,” says Rob de Jong, Head of UN Environment’s Air Quality and Mobility Unit.

Learn more in the article by UN environment programme below

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Below you can watch a video developed by European Commission.

“Air quality in Europe’s cities has improved in recent decades, but with estimates showing that air pollution causes more than 400,000 premature deaths each year, we have to do more. Greener transport, low emissions zones, and better cycling infrastructure can all play a part in improving the air in our cities.”

Lots of actions have been made by UN environment programme such as the Electric Mobility Programme and the Used Vehicles and the Environment. A combination of measures needs to be implemented world-wide in order to achieve a cleaner transport sector such as:

  • better-designed cities;
  • non-motorized transport facilities;
  • more public transport;
  • cleaner and more efficient on-road fleets, including electric vehicles.

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The UN Environment Programme developed the video “Breathe Life: I walk to work.” to make more and more people aware of the importance of walking to work rather than driving. This video produced for the campaign Breath Life led by the World Health Organization, UN Environment and the Climate & Clean Air Coalition.

Based on an article of WHO, in many countries worldwide the air pollution levels remain dangerously high. Every year 7 million people die from ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution.

“Many of the world’s megacities exceed WHO’s guideline levels for air quality by more than 5 times, representing a major risk to people’s health,” says Dr Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Public Health, Social and Environmental Determinants of Health, at WHO. “We are seeing an acceleration of political interest in this global public health challenge. The increase in cities recording air pollution data reflects a commitment to air quality assessment and monitoring. Most of this increase has occurred in high-income countries, but we hope to see a similar scale-up of monitoring efforts worldwide.”

You can read and learn more regarding this topic in Module 2, Unit 1.

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