More than third of nations not protecting outdoor air quality

Nairobi, Sep 2 (EFE).- Over a third of the world’s countries do not legally protect outdoor air quality, the United Nations Environment Programme said Thursday.

UNEP added that 31% of the countries have the power to enforce the quality standards but have yet to do so.

The findings were published in the report “Regulating Air Quality: The first global assessment of air pollution legislation,” on Thursday by the Nairobi-based UNEP, which examines laws in 194 states and the European Union.

In countries where such regulations exist, the agency noted, standards vary and often do not meet World Health Organization guidelines.

The report, which was released ahead of the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies on Sep.7, points out that the WHO has identified air pollution as the “single largest environmental health risk.”

Ninety-two percent of the world’s population lives in places where air pollution levels exceed safe limits, an issue that disproportionately affects women, children and the elderly in low-income countries.

The WHO has established benchmark values for outdoor air quality, but there is “no global alignment and common legal framework” to apply them.

Even where there is legal protection, standards are difficult to compare, as 49% of countries define air pollution exclusively as an outdoor threat, the geographic coverage of quality standards varies, and more than half of the countries allow deviations from these standards.

Institutional accountability for meeting standards is also weak globally, with only 33% of countries imposing obligations to meet legally required standards.

While monitoring is essential to know whether standards are being met, it is not a legal requirement in at least 37% of countries.

Related Articles

Back to top button