The third edition of the event took place on February 26th in the Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw.

The director of UNEP/GRID-Warsaw Centre, Maria Andrzejewska, presented a set of data regarding the sources, scale and effects of air pollution at the Congress.

An important part of her speech included showing data from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the BreatheLife campaign co-organised by UNEP and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

A Global Challenge

According to UN data 7 million people die prematurely each year due to air pollution, which is comparable to death levels from high blood pressure (9.4 million) or smoking tobacco (5.7 million).

About 90% of the human population breathes are with hazardous pollution levels. Air pollution is responsible for 29% of deaths related to lung cancer, 24% of strokes, 25% ofheart attacks and 43% of all lung diseases.

Andrzejewska outlined other impacts of smog, such as its role in climate change. She reminded the audience that a large part of local air pollution comes from burning fossil fuels that leads to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

According to UNEP and the World Meteorlogical Organisation (WMO) the fight against SLCP (Short-lived Climate Pollutants) emissions such as black carbon or tropospheric ozone could limit the scale of global temperature rise by 0.5 degrees to 2050.

Situation in Poland

An important part of the director’s speech was showcasing work aimed at limiting air pollution levels in Poland, such as local anti-smog legislation passed in 11 out of 16 Polish regions or the governmental ‚Clean Air’ programme.

It also touched upon actions that can help in achieving such goals – from thermal insulation of buildings to promoting public transport and greening of towns and cities.

Andrzejewska noted that an important challenge in the coming years will be to integrate air protection measures with other public policies, such as fighting the climate crisis, that will allow for maximising social and environmental benefits from investments and regulations.

About the Event

The Third Clean Air Congress was organised by TOR and the Mazovia region together with the City of Warsaw and the Mazovia Energy Agency.

It was attended by representatives of public administration, local and regional authorities, politicians, experts, members of the business, NGO and science community.