Governments Recognize Air Pollution’s Threat to Human Health

Healthy Energy Initiative
May 28, 2015
World Health Assembly’s Air Pollution Resolution is a Small First Step
The world’s governments took an important step forward in recognizing air pollution as a major threat to human health, by issuing a resolution at the World Health Assembly in Geneva this week. The resolution mandates greater engagement by the World Health Organization to address a problem responsible for one out of eight deaths worldwide.
The passage of this resolution marks a significant milestone in the global consensus among health leaders that air pollution has serious and costly health consequences, and therefore requires urgent action on the part of the health sector worldwide. It follows the WHO’s finding that air pollution exposure caused 7 million premature deaths in 2012, more than twice the death toll from HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
At the same time however, governments at the World Health Assembly were unwilling or unable to address the single most significant source of both outdoor air pollution and climate change: society’s dependence on fossil fuels, particularly the combustion of coal for energy generation.
“The resolution is an important step forward in that it will raise consciousness in the health sector and empower WHO to more robustly address the problem,” said Josh Karliner, Director of Global Projects at Health Care Without Harm. “But it is only a small step at a time when we urgently need to take a giant leap to protect public health from both air pollution and climate change.”