For too long, air pollution has been an invisible problem. That is until now. New technologies are exposing the presence of air pollution and connecting it back to sources and health impacts.
For the most part, cities across the globe have led the efforts to deploy innovative solutions for tackling air pollution and climate together. But they can’t do it alone. Companies can invest in solutions that address air pollution, protect the climate, and add value to their business.
Business leaders are being called on to align climate and clean air plans. And just as we saw momentum build from the business community to set serious, science-based targets to tackle climate change, the same ambition needs to happen for measuring and monitoring air pollution. Fortunately, new innovations and technological breakthroughs are enabling companies to work with cities on scaling solutions.
It’s true that in many cities, air quality is better now than it was decades ago. But urban air quality is still a health risk in far too many places. Premature death from air pollution is about 50 percent more common in cities than in rural areas. On days with higher air pollution, stock returns are lower, and students perform worse on exams. Companies in highly polluted cities have to offer a form of “hazard pay.” And with about 1.5 million people relocating to urban centers every week, air quality will remain a persistent and urgent problem for city leaders around the world.
EDF has been working for over three years to demonstrate how hyperlocal air quality monitoring can help local officials better identify and address dirty air. This week, at the 2019 C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, we released a guide that captures our experiences from groundbreaking monitoring pilots, and the lessons we learned along the way: Making the Invisible Visible: A guide for mapping hyperlocal air pollution to drive clean air action.
With the click of a button, our groceries, clothes, personal care products, household items – just about anything – could arrive on our doorsteps in a neatly packaged cardboard box. It’s convenience, delivered. But at what cost?
What happens behind-the-scenes to get a package delivered to your door is taking a toll on our planet and our health. Freight is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases and a major source of local air pollution. The rise in e-commerce is a growing part of increased pollution and poor air quality.
The truth is, “free shipping” isn’t really free. We’re just paying for it in other ways.
The first time I spoke at a conference about air pollution, the venue was right beside a daycare—a well-regarded chain, no doubt with significant waiting lists. But on the outside, the facility was steps from onramps to a bridge and a major highway, where horns blared and buses and trucks idled at the lights.
The pollution around this daycare was invisible, but because there is still so much we don’t know about air pollution, so were many of the risks. Read more
Right outside my window in Washington, DC, there is a hill where trucks accelerate towards the north, and buses idle to pick up tour groups. Even when the air looks clear, it may be hiding an invisible danger. Air pollution kills 4.5 million people a year and costs the world $225 billion a year in economic damages. These global figures mask what can be a highly local, personal risk. Recent studies show that air pollution varies as much as eight times within one city block. We also now know that living by streets with the most elevated pollution can raise the risk of heart attack or death among the elderly by more than 40% – suggesting air pollution is far more dangerous than previously understood.
The good news is we are on the cusp of generating widespread hyperlocal insights into air pollution. Understanding for the first time at a local, personal level where pollution is, where it comes from, and its impacts could shine a spotlight on the problem and increase the urgency and motivation for action. Because the best actions will protect health and mitigate the risk of climate change, local insights can provide the springboard for local, regional, national and even global impact. Read more