The Indian government reportedly temporarily closed five coal-fired power plants on Wednesday 17 November, after more and more children were hospitalized due to worsening air pollution in New Delhi, India.
According to a Reuters report, November 17, 2021, some hospitals in New Delhi also experienced a sharp increase in the number of children with respiratory complaints, raising concerns among parents and doctors about their health in the short and long term.
According to what is happening in the National Capital Region (NCR), the metropolitan area that includes the satellite cities of Delhi that have prolonged exposure to pollutants has tripled over the last seven to 10 days. This is certainly worrying.
Meanwhile, Europe also reported that air pollution caused the premature death of more than 300,000 Europeans in 2019. The European Environment Agency (EEA) says, three main pollutants: fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone, are the main elements that worsen health.
WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge said that in anticipating the death toll that fell both in India and Europe, the choice is to invest, especially in heating systems, mobility, agriculture and industry which are cleaner for health. This will result in better productivity, and a better quality of life for everyone, especially for the most vulnerable. These investments save lives and also help accelerate progress towards carbon neutrality and strong biodiversity. Dr Kluge also remarked that prolonged exposure to pollutants, including lead, can lead to more severe complications.
Breathing clean air should be a fundamental human right. This condition is necessary for a healthy and productive society. The improvement in air quality over the next few years will serve as a guide to achieving the levels in the new WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines.
The world must also agree on consensus guidance at the 2021 COP26 summit to phase out coal-fired power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and direct increased funding to climate finance to reduce the health impacts of air pollution.