UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David Boyd, said Monday that air pollution contributes to six million deaths a year.
Boyd put out a call for input that was received by over 30 civil society representatives and international organizations who participated in a public consultation in Geneva last October. In order to prepare for a new report on human rights obligations for regulating air pollution, the UN Special Rapporteur found that air pollution “is a silent, sometimes invisible, prolific killer” that has led to 7 million premature deaths, including 600,000 children.
Following the previous UN Special Rapporteur’s Framework Principle on Human Rights and the Environment, Boyd has indicated that 800 people are dying per hour from polluted air related diseases like cancer or respiratory disease. Although 155 states currently recognize this legal right, he believes that the fundamental right should be addressed globally.
The causes are tied to burning fossil fuels and poor waste management that contribute to both outdoor and indoor air pollution, In addressing the problem, Boyd outlined crucial steps to ensure clean air including: “monitor air quality and impacts on human health; assess sources of air pollution; make information publicly available, including public health advisories; establish air quality legislation, regulations, standards and policies; develop air quality action plans at the local, national and, if necessary, regional levels; implement the air quality action plan and enforce the standards; and evaluate progress and, if necessary, strengthen the plan to ensure that the standards are met. ”
Boyd’s main action focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that can address both the quality of air as well as environmental concerns from climate change.