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Pollution reaches "unbearable" level to humanity: UN official

Editor: zhenglimin 丨Xinhua

02-18-2017 10:40 BJT

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Pollution has reached a level which is unbearable to humanity, and one of the important solutions to current emergency is to invest in renewable energy, said UN Environment Program Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, Thiaw said pollution is a multi-dimensional issue which has impact on public health and also affects economy.

Thiaw cited earlier World Health Organization statistics as saying that seven million premature death annually linked to air pollution, adding that trillions of dollars are also being lost every year due to pollution.

Moreover, he noted that pollution may cause trans-boundary issues because pollutants generated in one country may affect another country or region far away through rivers and lakes, forest fires or air.

The most effective solution to curb pollution, according to Thiaw, is to find out the sources and reduce them, which is a complex process and in need of joint efforts from all walks of life -- governments, the private sector and the civil society.

Among the efforts, Thiaw said investing in renewable energy is a feasible approach to tackle, for instance, air pollution and this industry have proven to be profitable. "The price is going down and the technology is accessible."

Thiaw said the UN environment agency believes that by using new technology and renewable energy, a country can provide energy to its communities without further polluting the environment. "A good example is China where hundreds of billions of dollars are being invested every year on the renewable energy," he noted.

To reduce the air pollution in China, Thiaw said the Chinese government is investing quite massively to reduce the number of coal-fired energy systems and also is promoting clean transport systems with electric vehicles and motorbikes.

He said though the measures need to be further enhanced, "the right policies are already being put in place," and "we are very confident that the leadership in China is fully aware of the situation and will be addressing it in the future."

Noting that the air pollution, known as smog, has also been observed in other parts of the world like in France and in India, Thiaw said it is critical to establish mechanisms for countries to share experiences on how to reduce pollution through effective measures.

He mentioned that the UN Environment Program is organizing the UN Environment Assembly which is going to be held in December this year in Nairobi with theme of "Pollution."

He said the conference itself is a wonderful opportunity for dialogues and he expects representatives from the governments as well as the private sector to join the discussion to help the world adopt a new way of life so as to reduce pollution.

As for current international cooperation, Thiaw noted the Paris Agreement, the deal reached by the international community to combat climate change.

While stressing the linkages between climate change and pollution are evident, he said with the Paris Agreement, governments will make decisions to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and that will contribute to reducing the air pollution nowadays.

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