Dubai signs pledge to improve city's air quality

Agreement is part of initiative to tackle global problem

In this Friday, Oct. 18, 2019, photo, people enjoy a city skyline view with the World's tallest building Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Powered by automated translation

Dubai has pledged to set ambitious new pollution reduction targets as part of an international effort to further improve air quality.

The city is among 35 around the world to sign up to a declaration this month, with participants obliged to  introduce new environmental policies by 2025 and publicly report their progress.

London, Berlin, Amman, Sydney and Tokyo are among those to sign up to the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration.

Signatories are also promising to move away from vehicles powered by fossil fuels and make cycling, walking and taking public transport easier.

The agreement, unveiled at a summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, is a response to rising concern about the public health consequences of poor air quality, which is estimated to be responsible for 4.2 million deaths each year.

A recent analysis by Greenpeace, based on satellite data, named Dubai among 50 global hot spots with the presence of nitrogen oxides, which can lead to lung disease.

It was named by the environmental group as the most heavily polluted city in the region and the 10th worldwide, with a high number of cars one of the factors believed to be behind its position.

The signing of the declaration showed a strengthening commitment to ensuring cleaner air for Dubai’s residents and visitors, said Abdulla Al Basti, Secretary General of the Dubai Executive Council.

“The declaration leverages the significant efforts undertaken by Dubai’s Air Quality Strategy to identify and tackle key sources of air pollution, and sets clear objectives and actions for all key stakeholders from the energy, transport and industrial sectors, among others,” he said.

“Improving air quality is at the top of our local environmental heath priorities, and we are confident this partnership with C40 will contribute to furthering our sustainability agenda, and to a healthier environment for all.”

Overall, more than 140 million people live in the cities that have signed up to the declaration.

It is hoped that by committing to publicly reporting on progress, healthy competition will be created between the cities.

New policies that exceed or meet national commitments must be published within two years, and implemented by the middle of the next decade.

If signatories succeed in reducing pollution to levels set by the World Health Organisation, it is estimated that 40,000 deaths each year could be avoided worldwide.

The cities of Delhi, Jakarta and Washington DC are among others to have signed up to the agreement.

Existing policies already being rolled out in Dubai to improve air quality include the adoption of hybrid and electric taxis, use of energy efficient street lights and the introduction of new eco-friendly buses.

“Air pollution is a public health emergency, and it is getting worse,” said Jane Burston, executive director of the Clean Air Fund, a global network that aims to tackle pollution.

“Almost every city in the world suffers from harmful levels of air pollution, much of which is due to the burning of fossil fuels.

"Mayors around the world are taking action to protect the health of their citizens, and at the same time and with the same actions, to avert dangerous climate change and to strengthen their economies.

"The Clean Air Fund is therefore excited to support C40 and see cities coming together and demonstrating leadership in tackling this urgent crisis.”