Breathe Cities launches new Cohort of Cities
Ambitious project to curb urban air pollution
December 4, 2023
At the ongoing Climate Change Summit in Dubai, a group of entities have come together to announce a new cohort of cities as part of their project to curb urban air pollution.
A number of organisations and institutions have joined hands to announce a new cohort of cities to benefit from funding, technical support, air quality data, community engagement, capacity building, and additional support as part of the ‘Breathe Cities’ clean air initiative.
According to a press statement, the initiative was launched on Saturday during the COP28 Local Climate Action Summit and the organisations collaborating on the project include Bloomberg Philanthropies, Clean Air Fund and C40 Cities, a global group of Mayors of about 100 cities from around the world.
The statement adds that this new cohort of cities will join London and Warsaw and receive support to enhance air quality data, community engagement, capacity building, as part of a USD 30 million initiative. The statement adds that this aims to reduce air pollution, slash carbon emissions and enhance public health.
It says that the new cohort of Breathe Cities is a diverse group of global cities including Accra, Ghana; Brussels, Belgium; Jakarta, Indonesia; Johannesburg, South Africa; Milan, Italy; Nairobi, Kenya; Paris, France; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Sofia, Bulgaria.
Through an evidence-based strategy, combining data, policy, and community engagement, Breathe Cities has the ambitious goal of contributing to reducing air pollution by 30 pc on average across participating cities by 2030 compared to 2019 levels. The statement adds that such a bold reduction would prevent an estimated 39,000 premature deaths and around 79,000 new cases of asthma in children each decade, saving USD 107 billion in avoided hospitalisations and deaths. By 2030, a total of 284 Megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions would be avoided among participating cities, calling it a monumental win for both people and the planet.
“Toxic air pollution is a dual threat, impacting both the public health of our cities as well as furthering the climate crisis. As co-chair of C40 Cities, I have seen how collaboration can accelerate progress on the challenges we face. By partnering with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Clean Air Fund, we will be able to provide cities with the data and capacity they need to push for stronger and more effective policies that reduce air pollution and deliver cleaner, healthier air to their residents,” says Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London and co-chair of C40 Cities.
“One of the most effective ways to tackle climate change and protect public health is through reducing air pollution. With the right technology, data and policy, cities can lead the way in cleaning the air. Bloomberg Philanthropies is looking forward to working with these cities to help them implement ambitious solutions that will help improve and save lives,” says US billionaire Michael R Bloomberg, who is also the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions and founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
“Empowering cities to tackle air pollution will have a direct impact on public health and wellbeing and unlock a host of wider economic and environmental benefits,” says Jane Burston, CEO, Clean Air Fund.
The cities announced today will join together in a first-of-its-kind partnership to exchange knowledge and scale local impact. Carefully selected for their commitment to advancing ambitious policies addressing the dual challenges of air pollution and climate emissions, the participating local governments were chosen based on criteria such as geographic diversity, air pollution and emissions intensity, engaged civil society, strong political interest and leadership, scalability potential, and capacity to implement action plans, among other metrics.
The statement adds that air pollution is one of the most urgent global issues. Almost no urban area has air quality that meets the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. It says that 41 pc of cities have air pollution over seven times higher than WHO’s recommendation, meaning their residents are breathing dangerously polluted air that can cause a suite of health issues such as asthma and respiratory illnesses. Air pollution is also associated with 7 million premature deaths each year.