On the eve of World Environment Day, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, David Boyd said China's efforts in tackling air pollution have become “a success story.”
“There are numerous success stories of drastically reducing air pollution from across the world, including China, who is hosting World Environment Day this year. These stories prove that air pollution is a preventable problem,” he said.
From 1998 to 2018, China launched a war on smog, controlling emissions from the primary pollution sources, including the coal-fired power plants, industries, transportation, heating, and buildings.
As a result, the average concentrations of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and fine particle PM10 dropped by 93.3, 37.8, and 55.3 percent respectively in Beijing.
The PM 2.5 content in the air reduced by over 40 percent, a recent report on the country's 20-year fight against air pollution, released by Beijing Municipal Ecology and Environment Bureau, found.
The country's achievement would be showcased during the World Environment Day celebrations on June 5, held under the theme of “Air Pollution.”
A range of events are to be held in multiple cities in the country, with the main event in Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang Province.
“Air pollution is a silent, invisible and prolific killer that is responsible for the premature death of 7 million people each year, disproportionately affecting women, children and poor communities,” Boyd added.
According to the recent estimates, more than 90 percent of the world's population breathe polluted air.
A study by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) warned that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries are likely to face one of the worst consequences of air pollution.
More than 205 million people in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, and Brunei are expected to move to cities by 2050, the study concluded.
Concerned over the rising air pollution, the United Nations is urging governments to consider clean air as a fundamental human right.
“Failing to ensure clean air constitutes a violation of the rights to life, health and well-being, as well as the right to live in a healthy environment,” Boyd said.
“States must take urgent action to improve air quality to fulfill their human rights obligations,” he added.