As the world looks at how to recover from COVID-19, there is a unique opportunity to ‘build back better’ by addressing air pollution, alongside climate, health and development priorities. How can the world build back the economy in the most resilient way?

A webinar on 7 September explores integrated strategies that achieve clean air, benefit human health, contribute to addressing climate change and make progress towards multiple Sustainable Development Goals. A new policy brief ‘Air pollution and its impact on human health: an important driver for achieving the 1.5°C goal of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’, will be launched at the webinar.

Air pollution is the world’s largest environmental health risk, contributing to 7 million premature deaths per year, according to the World Health Organization. The health impact of air pollution most heavily affects urban and low-income communities.

SEI research has highlighted the main impacts of air pollution on health, showing that small particulate matter can be related to millions of asthma-related visits to hospital each year globally, and over two million pre-term births, which can have life-long health implications for survivors.

To reduce the health impacts from air pollution, SEI’s Low Emissions Analysis Platform and Integrated Benefits Calculator (LEAP-IBC) can help plan coherent emission reduction strategies with health benefits.

New policy brief on air pollution and human health impacts

The SEI policy brief states that “Immediate coordinated action on reducing short-lived climate pollutants can prevent over 0.5°C of warming by 2050, but can also reduce the health impacts from air pollution, including exposure to small particulate matter and ground-level ozone”.

“If chosen carefully, measures to address air pollution can also reduce greenhouse gases, which addresses climate change. If this opportunity is to be realized, then countries and cities need to know which air pollution policies can provide both health and climate change reduction benefits. The SEI tool helps with this.”

— Dr Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna, Air Pollution Research Leader, SEI

Webinar: Why we must address air pollution to tackle health and climate

The webinar on 7 September is part of the United Nation’s International Day of Clean Air for blue skies. The webinar will host an expert panel to explore the links between air pollution, health, COVID-19 recovery and climate change mitigation, and discuss holistic solutions to address these issues.

The event will be chaired by Dr Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna, Air Pollution Research Leader, SEI.

Online webinarBuilding back better: why we must address air pollution to tackle public health and climate change
Date: 7 September 2020
Time: 15:00 – 16:30 BST
Registration: Journalists are welcome to sign up to the webinar

Speakers include:

Geraint Davies MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Air Pollution, UK Parliament

Professor Sir Andy Haines, Professor of Environmental Change and Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Helena Molin Valdés, Head of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat

Dr Eleni Iacovidou, Lecturer in Environmental Management, Brunel University London

Dr Chris Malley, Senior Research Fellow, SEI, University of York

Dr Luis Gerardo Ruiz Suárez, General Coordinator of Pollution and Environmental Health, National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC)

Dr Yewande Awe, Senior Environmental Engineer, World Bank

Dr Sarah West, Centre Director, SEI, University of York

Closing remarks

Dr Patrick Büker, Air Pollution Advisor, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

Further information

Read SEI’s new policy brief ‘Air pollution and its impact on human health: an important driver for achieving the 1.5°C goal of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The brief is written by Johan C. I. Kuylenstierna and Chris Malley, SEI at the University of York, and Patrick Büker and Tangmar Marmon, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The authors are available for interviews upon request.

Graciela de Raga (Mexico), Johan Kuylenstierna (United Kingdom), Nino Künzli (Switzerland), Shonali Pachauri (Austria) and Yun Chul Hong (South Korea) present their Clean Air Day messages.

Twitter: #CleanAirForAll #WorldCleanAirDay

About the organizers

SEI is a key partner of the UN International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, led by the United Nations Environment Programme.  SEI at the University of York, UK, is leading on SEI activities for the day. The event and policy brief is funded by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).