‘World Environment Day’ to be observed worldwide today
Coinciding with the Islamic festival of Eid-ul-Fitr, the World Environment Day is being celebrated across the globe today (Wednesday) to highlight the serious environmental issues being faced globally. The World Environment Day (WED), celebrated each year on June 5, is the day to raise worldwide awareness and inspire action to protect our environment, according to a statement issued by the United Nations here on Wednesday.
Since it began in 1974, the event has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries that are members of UN. “This year, the WED is coinciding with the end of the holy month of Ramzan and Eid-ul-Fitr,” the statement said. Each World Environment Day is organised around a theme that draws attention to a particularly pressing environmental concern. The theme for 2019 is “Air pollution”, the UN said. “It is a call to action to combat one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. Chosen by this year’s host, China, the theme invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the amount of air pollution we produce and thwart its contribution to global warming and its effects on our own health,” the UN statement said.
In his message issued on the eve of World Environment Day, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said, “To improve air quality, we must know our enemy. Deaths and illnesses from air pollution are caused by tiny particles that penetrate our defences every time we fill our lungs. These particles come from many sources: the burning of fossil fuels for power and transport; the chemicals and mining industries; the open burning of waste; the burning of forests and fields; and the use of dirty indoor cooking and heating fuels, which are major problems in the developing world.
This polluted air kills some 7 million people each year, causes long term health problems, such as asthma, and reduces children’s cognitive development. According to the World Bank, air pollution costs societies more than $ 5 trillion every year.”
The UN chief’s statement added that tackling air pollution therefore presents a double opportunity, as there are many successful initiatives that both clear the air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as phasing out coal-fired power plants and promoting less polluting industry, transport and domestic fuels. With investments in renewable energy sources outstripping those in fossil fuels every year, the rise of clean energy is helping globally. Cleaner transport is also growing around the world.
“Today, we face an equally urgent crisis. It is time to act decisively. My message to governments is clear: tax pollution; end fossil fuel subsidies; and stop building new coal plants. We need a green economy not a grey economy.
On World Environment Day, I ask each of us to act so we can breathe more easily. From pressuring politicians and businesses to changing our own habits, we can reduce pollution and beat climate change,” António Guterres said.