According to Clean Air Fund, a philanthropic initiative tackling global air pollution, the rate of exposure to dirty air is increasing with urbanisation and slums.
The burning of fossil fuel, poor management of organic waste, poor public transport systems, unsustainable agricultural practices and inefficient household energy use are contributing to dirty air.
The most vulnerable people are always hardest hit. Improvements in air quality would help to prevent the 1.2 million deaths resulting from exposure to fossil fuel-derived air pollution in 2020 alone.
Findings from the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Africa integrated assessment on air pollution and climate change – released during COP27 – have shown that by prioritising air pollution along with climate change solutions, governments could unlock a raft of health, environmental and economic benefits for their citizens.
Ghana Country Lead at Clean Air Fund, Desmond Appiah, observed the level at which non-communicable diseases are increasing is astronomical. These diseases include diabetes, lung and heart conditions.
He therefore believes it has become imperative to highlight climate change issues from the heath perspective.
“The sources of greenhouse gas emissions are virtually the same as sources of air pollution. However, the advantage we have is that if we invest in air pollution prevention, we get the whole benefit of improvement in health,” Desmond noted.
Governments are therefore to recognise an economic opportunity to use action on clean air as a catalyst for sustainable growth, which also helps mitigate and adapt to climate change.