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So. Africa: Scientists call for a global compact between business, governments and citizens to reduce air pollution

‘Scientists call for global action on air pollution’ 19 June 2019

SA’s national science academy has joined its counterparts in Brazil, Germany and the US in calling for global action on air pollution, a major contributor to disease and climate change. Air pollution cut global life expectancy by 20 months in 2016, rivalling the impact of smoking, according to the State of Global Air Report, published by the US Health Effects Institute. “The health impacts of air pollution are enormous, it can harm health across the entire lifespan, causing disease, disability and death. It is time to move the issue much higher up in the policy agenda,” said Academy of Science of SA (Assaf) executive officer Himla Soodyall.

The science academies delivered a statement to senior UN representatives and high-level diplomats from the four countries at the UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday and called for a new global compact between business, governments and citizens to reduce air pollution. The development adds to the pressure on the SA government, which faces a lawsuit from environmental activists who are trying to force it to reduce air pollution in the Mpumalanga Highveld by making big emitters such as state-owned electricity generator Eskom and fuel producer Sasol comply with emissions standards. Eskom and Sasol were previously given permission to delay compliance until 2025, due to the costs of modifying their facilities.

…The science academies called for greater public and private sector investments in measures to combat air pollution, noting that this would not only benefit human health but also help reduce global warming. “Air pollution and climate change share an important common source: the combustion of fossil fuels. That is why tackling air pollution will also help us make progress towards combating climate change,” said Brazilian Academy of Sciences president Luiz Davidovich…“For the last decade groundWork has been calling for the health sector to be more vocal on energy, air pollution and climate issues. Last week we launched the Deadly Air legal case against government for their inaction on air pollution. We have provided clear evidence in this case that air pollution is detrimental to our health and well-being,” he said, referring to the case brought by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) against the government on behalf of groundWork and the Vukani