Air pollution has long been an environmental and health problem – but now it should be viewed as a human rights issue as well, according to the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights and the environment.
Air pollution is leading to 7 million premature deaths a year around the world, including 600,000 among children. That’s in part, because the most visible air pollution has often been cleaned up, leaving behind pollution that is harder to see and easier to ignore.
According to David Boyd, a professor of law, policy and sustainability at the University of British Columbia.
“We’ve addressed some types of air pollution in some places, and so a lot of the air pollution that we’re dealing with today you can’t really smell it, you can’t see it. It’s these really microscopic particles that people are inhaling into their lungs,” he said.
Heart diseases, lung cancer, neurological disorders including Alzheimers can be attributed to pollution.
“Air pollution and climate change are very closely related. Taking steps to address to air pollution, if it’s done right, can also address climate change,” said Boyd.
UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres said the world has set aside $90 trillion to be spent by 2030, making sure new infrastructures are built or updated with clean power that can withstand worsening climate disasters.
The existing infrastructure today, accounts for about 70 percent of heat-trapping emissions around the world.