On behalf of the United States, it’s an honor to join fellow member states to commemorate the 4th International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies.
Special thanks to Executive Secretary Alisjahbana for her outstanding leadership and to the ESCAP [United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific] Secretariat for their work in preparing this event. The U.S. remains committed to advancing global action on air pollution, which is a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration.
For example, we’re funding a project led by Duke University that has established partnerships with universities and NGO’s [nongovernmental organizations] in nearly every country in South and Central Asia. This project builds local capacity to manage air quality and reduces air pollution.
Furthermore, as part of our global climate efforts, we form close partnerships through the Global Methane Pledge and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.
We’re working with over 150 countries to cut air pollution, including the reduction of methane emissions, which is a potent greenhouse gas and a critical source of air pollution.
Too often, we may see air pollution as a problem that’s just too expensive to solve. But in reality, curbing air pollution has massive economic benefits.
Since 1970, when the U.S. enacted the Clean Air Act, we’ve reduced the emissions of the most dangerous pollutants by 78%, while our economy has grown by nearly 300%. During the same period, total private sector jobs increased by 223%. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that for every dollar invested in cleaning the air, as much as $90.00 are returned and improved health and economic productivity,
All countries can enjoy similar benefits.
We therefore celebrate the recent adoption of the Regional Action Program on Air Pollution, and we congratulate ESCAP for their excellent leadership on this issue.
The U.S. looks forward to collaborating with fellow ESCAP member states to implement the Regional Action Program.
And in honor of our continued commitment to the mission of ESCAP, the State Department is working with ESCAP to launch a partnership on a project that’s groundbreaking. It’s a project that would develop a methodology for improving air quality in airsheds spanning multiple countries. This will serve as a model for further implementation of ESCAP’s Regional Action Program.
We’re also working with partner countries to introduce a resolution at UNEA-6 [Sixth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly] that will promote regional cooperation to improve air quality, building on the momentum created by ESCAP’s Regional Action Program on Air Pollution. This resolution will call for a global framework for regional bodies to address air pollution.
In short, our environmental challenges are great, but I’m optimistic that together we will overcome them. And so, on this 4th International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, let’s all pledge to redouble our collective efforts to reduce air pollution.