UN Warns About Failed Climate Goals
The World Health Organization has been gathering data from cities, towns, and villages all over the world, and its findings, recently updated on a new database the WHO maintains, are not good. Air quality is for 99% of the people on Earth, it says, with almost everyone breathing in particles of pollutants that can cause disease.
Air quality is worst in the Eastern Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, and Africa, the WHO said.
“After surviving a pandemic, it is unacceptable to still have 7 million preventable deaths and countless preventable lost years of good health due to air pollution,” said Dr. Maria Neira, head of WHO’s department of environment, climate change, and health. “Yet too many investments are still being sunk into a polluted environment rather than in clean, healthy air.”
The database measures particulate matter known as PM2.5 and PM10, along with nitrogen dioxide, which comes mostly from the burning of fossil fuels.
“Particulate matter, especially PM2.5, is capable of penetrating deep into the lungs and entering the bloodstream, causing cardiovascular, cerebrovascular (stroke) and respiratory impacts,” the WHO said. “There is emerging evidence that particulate matter impacts other organs and causes other diseases as well.”
The findings come the same week that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that “a litany of broken climate promises” has “put us firmly on the track toward an unlivable world.”
Though signers of the Paris Climate Agreement vowed to limit global average temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages in the 21st century, the world has already warmed 1.1 degrees. That’s not far from the Paris ideal of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees this century.
“If we continue acting as we are now, we’re not even going to limit warming to 2 degrees, never mind 1.5 degrees,” James Skea of Imperial College London and co-chair of a report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told the Associated Press.
As a result of hotter temperatures, natural disasters such as wildfires are more prevalent, making air quality worse.