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Air Pollution: A Major Health Risk—What Can We Do? ______________ How reducing short-lived climate pollutants can lower the death toll

World Health Assembly Side Event, 20 May 2013 Palais des Nations, Geneva, 18:00, Salle XXIV

Organized by the governments of Ghana, Norway and Sweden — with the World Health Organization, United Nations Environment Programme and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC)

Reducing short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon, methane and tropospheric ozone can prevent a significant proportion of the estimated 6 million deaths annually from air-pollution related disease — and slow near-term global warming by up to 0.5⁰⁰ C (2010-2050) ————————————————————————— The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants is supporting global initiatives in sectors such as transport, agriculture, household energy and waste management — emphasizing climate mitigation actions that yield immediate health gains


HEALTH ISSUES Air pollution is a major cause of noncommunicable diseases and childhood pneumonia. Some 22% of all deaths from ischaemic heart disease are due to outdoor air pollution. Nearly 1/3 of deaths from adult chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and about 1/2 of pneumonia deaths among children under 5 years of age, are caused by exposure to indoor smoke from cookstoves.

Biomass cookstove smoke hangs over Gatlang village, Nepal. (N Bruce/WHO)

Republic of Ghana

Reducing short-lived climate pollutants is critical to reducing nearterm climate change. Short-lived climate pollutants particularly harmful to health include soot particles and gases emitted by sources such as: inefficient biomass and coal cookstoves; diesel exhaust; traditional brick kilns; and methane emissions from oil and natural gas production, sewage, landfills and rice paddies.

Oorja low-emissions cookstove, India (M Deogaonkar/First Energy)

Clean bus rapid transit in Curitiba (R. Giling/Lineair/Still Pictures)

About CCAC The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) is the first global effort to treat short-lived climate pollutants — such as black carbon (or soot), methane and many hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) — as an urgent and collective climate challenge. The CCAC is catalyzing rapid reductions in these harmful pollutants to protect human health and the environment now, and slow the rate of climate change within the first half of this century. Launched by six governments and UNEP in February 2012, the CCAC has rapidly expanded, and as of April 2013 included the governments of 30 countries, the European Commission, and 29 intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.

Climate, Health and Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Many health-enhancing strategies to reduce SLCPs cost little or may save money over their lifetime, e.g.: more efficient domestic cookstoves and heaters; more efficient brick kilns; PV solar lights and power replacing kerosene lamps and diesel power generators in homes and health clinics; and improved urban cycling/walking infrastructure. Besides less air-pollution related disease, other health benefits and health-care cost savings may include: improved workers’ health; prevention of violence and injury risks to women and children from fuel gathering and kerosene use; healthier and safer active travel and public transport replacing diesel vehicles; improved services in health clinics with sustainable lighting and power sources; improved food security due to reduced ozone impacts on crops; reduced vector borne disease due to intermittent wet-dry irrigation of rice paddies. SIDE EVENT HIGHLIGHTS — KEY SPEAKERS Dr Tore Godal — Norwegian PM’s Special Advisor on Global Health

Dr Nino Künzli — Deputy Director, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute

Ms Anna Gunilla Carlsson — Minister of International Development, Sweden

Dr Maria Neira — Director, WHO Department of Public Health & Environment

Ms Sherry Ayittey — Minister of Health, Ghana

Moderated discussion

Dr Veerabhadran Ramanathan — CCAC Science Advisory Panel


Dr Kalpana Balakrishnan — CCAC Science Advisory Panel

Live video webcast —

Low-emissions brick kiln reduces workers’ smoke exposures (Greentech Solutions)

PV solar replaces kerosene lights in health clinic, Nigeria (We Care Solar)

Links & information: Department of Public Health & Environment, WHO: Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC): Note: Unreserved Palais entry to event for UN staff with badges For more information:

Children study by solar lanterns, India (TERI/Energy & Resources Institute)

Air Pollution: A Major Health Risk—What Can We Do?  

Announcement for World Health Assembly side event (20th May 2013, Geneva)

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