Tomorrow, Wednesday June 5, is World Environment Day, the United Nation's principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our shared global environment. Since it began in 1972, it has grown to become the single largest celebration of our environment each year.
Each year, World Environment Day has a different theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. This year, the theme is air pollution and the special day is hosted by China. Governments, industry, communities, and individuals are all encouraged to come together to explore renewable energy and green technologies and improve air quality in cities and regions across the world.
Approximately 7 million people worldwide die prematurely each year from air pollution, with about 4 million of these deaths occurring in Asia-Pacific.
China with its growing green energy sector, has emerged as a climate leader. The country owns half the world's electric vehicles and 99 percent of the world's electric buses. By hosting World Environment Day 2019, the Chinese government will be able to showcase its innovation and progress toward a cleaner environment.
China has demonstrated tremendous leadership in tackling air pollution domestically. It can now help spur the world to greater action and lead the push for global action to save millions of lives.
The established facts paint a bleak picture: 92 per cent of people worldwide do not breathe clean air. Air pollution costs the global economy $5 trillion every year in welfare costs. Ground-level ozone pollution is expected to reduce staple crop yields by 26 per cent by 2030.
According to our Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air quality in Ireland is generally of a high standard across the country and is amongst the best in Europe; however, levels of some pollutants remain of concern, with those produced by traffic approaching limit values in urban centres.
Domestic solid fuel use is the other main source of air pollution in Ireland and particularly impacts air quality in areas where the sale of bituminous coal is permitted. As a result, air pollution from the burning of solid fuel can be of a greater concern in smaller towns in Ireland.
Each year the EPA produces an air quality report. The current EPA air quality report and all previous reports can be downloaded at http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/air/quality/