Air quality is an urgent issue in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. Around 90,000 premature deaths annually are caused by outside air pollution, and 39, 000 people die prematurely each year from illness attributable to indoor air pollution. This, combined with the impact some of the pollutants have on near-term climate change, makes action to improve air quality a political imperative.
71 representatives from 11 Latin American countries discussed strategies and actions to combat the problem at the first Regional Latin American Conference on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) and Air Pollution in Lima, Peru. The main aim of the conference was to identify opportunities for regional collaboration to scale-up efforts, strengthen information sharing among countries, and increase capacity to advance fast action to reduce air pollution and climate change.
Participants shared how they were implementing national activities set out in the Regional Plan of Action on Atmospheric Pollution and reinforced their commitment to cut emissions of SLCPs -including black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and hydrofluruocarbons (HFCs).
How to access to cleaner fuel (especially low sulfur diesel) and transport options, reduction of methane from the agriculture sector, approaches to engaging the health sector to assess the impact of indoor air pollution, the state of the fossil fuel industry in the region, and information on how to improve access to financing through innovative approaches, were areas where participants developed practical steps forward.
Delia Morales Cuti, Director of the Department of Air Quality, Ministry of Environment of Peru – which hosted the conference, said Peru was developing an action plan that will allow it to identify the emission sources of short-lived climate pollutants.
“This will provide a comprehensive view and enable a cross-sectoral approach to deal with the problem,” Ms Morales Cuti said. “We will also know the cost of implementation and what it entails in terms public health, because ultimately, people’s health is what the Ministry of Environment protects with such policies.”