Breathe Life: protecting health and climate by improving air quality, is a new global campaign led by the WHO and Norway to reduce short-lived climate pollutants that are a significant component of air pollution harming both health and climate.
Air pollution is now the world's largest single environmental health risk, responsible for about 7 million premature, preventable deaths every year, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization. Only 12% of cities achieve WHO guideline levels for air quality – and many cities suffer from air pollution levels that are double, triple or even more above WHO guideline limits.
Significantly, many of the most health-harmful air pollutants also exacerbate climate change. These include black carbon, a component of fine particulate matter emitted by diesel engines, biomass combustion and other sources. Ozone is another air pollutant as well as a climate pollutant. Ozone is formed through the interaction of diverse urban and peri-urban pollution emissions, including traffic, power plant and building exhaust, as well as emissions of methane (in itself another powerful short-lived climate pollutant) from waste, sewage and agriculture.