International expert group proposes global target for air quality
A global environmental target on air pollution and a powerful mobilization of resources to improve air quality in low-income countries. This is what researchers and decision-makers propose in a report from the international workshop Saltsjöbaden VII, organized by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
“Air pollution is our single largest environmental health risk. Several million people die prematurely every year due to air pollution. If we reduce emissions of air pollutants, we can save both lives and health care costs while reducing the burden on ecosystems and the climate," says Peringe Grennfelt, senior researcher at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
Nitrogen oxides, ground-level ozone and particulate matter are linked to heart and lung disease, dementia, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The main sources of these substances are traffic and wood burning. Other major sources of air pollution are agriculture, the fossil fuel sector, and some industries.
Since 2000, every five years the Saltsjöbaden workshop brings together scientists, policy makers and experts to discuss pressing air quality issues and help setting the agenda for the coming years.
The latest workshop, held in Gothenburg in March this year, brought together over 180 policy makers, scientists, and experts from 35 countries and 20 international organizations. Their conclusions are summarized in a new publication with several targeted recommendations, including the introduction of a global target for reducing air pollution emissions.
“A global goal on air quality is an interesting idea, although it needs further assessment and elaboration. But in general, this kind of joint environmental goals can motivate ambitious cooperation both internationally and within countries," says Anna Engleryd, senior policy advisor at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's air unit.
In conjunction with the Saltsjöbaden meeting, the newly launched initiative Forum for International Cooperation on Air Pollution (FICAP) was also arranged to facilitate global cooperation in the field of air pollution.
Saltsjöbaden VII Recommendations
- Consider a global environmental goal for air quality control
- Set binding targets on methane emissions and increase the ambition on ammonia in environmental agreements
- Mobilize resources for knowledge transfer to regions outside the UN/ECE
- Initiate and promote a UNFCCC special report on air pollution and climate
- Create air quality roadmaps for low-income countries
- Develop international and national strategies to reduce methane emissions in order to reduce the formation of ground-level ozone.
The workshop was organized by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and the Swedish Presidency of the Council of Europe, with support from the City of Gothenburg in cooperation with several international organizations such as the UNECE Air Convention, the European Commission, the Nordic Council of Ministers, WHO and UNEP.
For more information, please contact:
Peringe Grennfelt, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone +46(0)10-788 67 84
Anna Engleryd, email@example.com, phone +46 (0)10-698 10 60