Toxic air kills more than 8 million people worldwide each year, and is responsible for a range of health problems, including asthma, heart disease, premature births and reduced cognitive performance. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the burden of outdoor air pollution falls disproportionately on people in low and middle-income countries, where 91 percent of premature pollution-related deaths take place, according to the WHO.
To accelerate city-led action on the triple threat of air pollution, congestion and the climate emergency, Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London and Chair of C40 Cities) convened representatives from 16 C40 cities in London recently. Partnered by WHO, the three-day study tour provided an opportunity for participants to experience London’s environment and transport policies, including the world’s first 24 hour Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which covers an area with a population of 4 million people. The ULEZ scheme has helped reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in inner London by 20 per cent, building on a reduction in central London of 44 per cent.
A quarter of London’s carbon emissions come from transport. To address this, the mayor has set a target for London to be net-zero by 2030. Earlier this year, London’s City Hall revealed that the cost of traffic congestion to London’s economy stands at £5.1 billion a year, and warned that unless efforts to deliver a green, sustainable recovery from the pandemic increase, the capital could lurch from one public health and economic crisis to another, caused by filthy air and gridlocked roads.
To address these challenges, the mayor announced that C40 Cities would support twelve Global South cities through the Clean Air Fund in order to tackle toxic air pollution and improve public health. Specific measures would include: air quality and health data collection, analysis and management, the delivery of policies to create low emission zones, zero emission areas, vehicle emissions testing programmes, freight measures and other actions, as well as communication and citizen engagement strategies to support the implementation of the policies and programmes.
Silent Spring Consultants look forward to following progress in the twelve Global South cities and also the C40 World Mayors Summit in October 2022, hosted in Buenos Aires. The summit will take place two weeks before the 27th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP27) held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt which will explore solutions and call for action around three themes: Green recovery, Wellbeing cities and Climate financing.
Watch this space in October and November as we will share news and opinion on the C40 Summit and COP27.
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 C40 is a network of mayors of nearly 100 world-leading cities taking urgent action to confront the climate crisis and create a future where everyone can thrive.