RITZAU: PRM / 34 cities unite to clean the air their citizens breathe, protecting the health of millions
Mayors from London, Paris, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Delhi, Jakarta, Mexico City and cities around the world commit to a shared vision of meeting World Health Organization Air Quality Guidelines by 2030. 40,000 deaths per year could be averted. Global Climate Emergency demands unprecedented action from the world’s big cities
Copenhagen, Denmark (October 11, 2019) – Today, 34 mayors pledged to deliver clean air for the more than 140 million people that live in their cities. By signing the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration, the mayors recognise that breathing clean air is a human right and commit to work together to form an unparalleled global coalition for clean air.
The pledge unveiled today at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen commits cities to set ambitious pollution reduction targets and implement substantive clean air policies by 2025. By publicly reporting on their progress, the cities plan to generate a ‘race to the top’ in cleaning the air in the world’s big cities. The cities signing the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration are:
Amman, Austin, Bengaluru, Barcelona, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Delhi, Dubai, Durban (eThekwini), Guadalajara, Heidelberg, Houston, Jakarta, Los Angeles, Lima, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Medellin, Mexico City, Milan, Oslo, Paris, Portland, Quezon City, Quito, Rotterdam, Seoul, Stockholm, Sydney, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Tokyo, Washington D.C.
Mayors, speaking at a press conference in Copenhagen had a clear message “We know we need to tackle the twin dangers of air pollution and the climate emergency. Both need swift, unprecedented and collective action to remove the pollution that is harming our health and warming our planet.”
According to the World Health Organization, nine in 10 citizens around the world breathe dirty air, and 7 million people die prematurely each year due to air pollution. Air pollution is creating a global public health crisis — one that is rooted in social injustice. Typically, it is the poorest and most vulnerable communities that are most affected by dirty, polluted air.
Through the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration, mayors commit to using their power and influence to reduce air pollution and work towards meeting the World Health Organization’s Air Quality Guidelines. This means cities will continually reduce their local emissions, and advocate for reductions in regional emissions, resulting in continuous declines in air pollution levels that move towards the WHO guidelines:
Signatories of the declaration pledge to:
- Set ambitious pollution reduction targets within two years that meet or exceed national commitments, putting them on a path towards meeting World Health Organization guidelines;
- Implement substantive clean air policies by 2025 that address the unique causes of pollution in their cities; and
- Publicly report progress on achieving these goals.
If the 34 signatories reduce annual average PM2.5 levels to WHO guidelines (10 ug/m3) it could avoid 40,000 deaths each year.
Mayors have a wide array of tools at their disposal for improving air quality, including expanding low- or zero-carbon public transport; creating zero-emissions zones; requiring and promoting cleaner fuels for heating and cooking; enhancing incentives and infrastructure to support walking and cycling, and establishing city-wide air quality monitoring. However, they also recognize cities often do not have the ability to address all causes of pollution, and are calling upon nation states, businesses and all those who care about climate change and public health to match this commitment. The Declaration includes this message for all responsible actors: “We will use all the powers at our disposal as mayors to tackle air pollution, and call on others responsible for the sources of air pollution that poison the air in our cities to match this commitment.”
“Clean air is a human right, and it’s time we start treating it like one,” said Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. “Air pollution is a global crisis, and as mayors, it is our fundamental responsibility to protect our citizens from the dangerous health implications associated with breathing dirty air. That’s why, in London, we’ve launched the world’s largest ultra-low emission zone, established an unprecedented air quality network and taken ambitious steps to electrify and expand public transport. Cities are leading this effort with innovative solutions, and I’m thrilled to join mayors from around the world in signing onto this declaration to continue our work to deliver clean air for all.”
“Breathing clean air is a fundamental human right.” added Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40 Cities. “The fossil fuel and combustion car industry are responsible for a global public health crisis. The commitments announced today by 34 pioneering mayors, clearly demonstrates that the era of toxic emissions that poison the air we all breathe is ming to an end. I won’t rest until all Parisians breathe clean air.”
“Citizens, young and old have a right to clean air! And we have an obligation to look at every opportunity to improve the air in our cities. Copenhagen fully supports the C40 Clean Air Declaration and the call for new initiatives, which can reduce air pollution.”said Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, and C40 Vice Chair
Over the last decade, cities have been taking action to address underlying causes of air pollution, including high-emission transportation systems. 34 cities, including Milan, London, and Copenhagen, have committed to the C40 Green and Healthy Streets Declaration, through which they have pledged to procure only zero-emissions buses from 2025 and make a major area of the city transport emissions-free by 2030.
C40 research shows that if all C40 cities cleaned their transport, buildings and industry this would reduce GHG emissions by 87%, PM2.5 by nearly 50% and would avoid over 220,000 premature deaths per year. At a city level, this work also highlights the benefits from specific climate and air quality actions:
- By switching the bus fleet to clean vehicles and implementing a zero-emission zone in Paris, the city could avert 385 premature deaths and save 0.5MtCO2e per year.
- Mexico City has launched a programme to incentivise industry to improve their efficiency as well as adopt sustainable technologies. This is expected to avert 60 premature deaths and prevent over 575 hospital admissions per year.
- Los Angeles’ Green New Deal includes policies on transportation, buildings, and industry that could reduce GHG emissions by 26.1 MtCO2e and prevent 1,650 premature deaths and 660 hospital admissions per year from reduced air pollution.
“C40 cities have long been leading global efforts to clean the air we breathe, reduce harmful pollution, and make drastic cuts to emissions driving the global climate crisis” said C40 Chair-elect and Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti. “C40 mayors recognize bold and ambitious climate action has the added benefit of reducing harmful pollution and cleaning the air we breathe, and this declaration is the next phase of our commitment to protecting citizens’ basic human right to clean air.”
On October 9th, C40 mayors announced their support for a Global Green New Deal to “drive an urgent, fundamental and irreversible transfer of global resources away from fossil fuels and into action that averts the climate emergency.” The C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration, is just one example of how cities are delivering on that vision.
About the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
Around the world, C40 Cities connects 94 of the world’s greatest cities to take bold climate action, leading the way towards a healthier and more sustainable future. Representing 700+ million citizens and one quarter of the global economy, mayors of the C40 cities are committed to delivering on the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement at the local level, as well as to cleaning the air we breathe. The current chair of C40 is Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo; and three-term Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg serves as President of the Board. C40’s work is made possible by our three strategic funders: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and Realdania.
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