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‘International Day of Clean Air for blue skies’

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  • Published
    15th Sep, 2020

The very first International Day of Clean Air for blue skies was held on September 7th, 2020.


The very first International Day of Clean Air for blue skies was held on September 7th, 2020.


  • The General Assembly of United Nations adopted a resolution in 2019 to observe the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies on 07th September every year starting from 2020.
  • The Day calls for increased international cooperation at the global, regional and sub-regional levels.
  • It provides a provide a platform for strengthening global solidarity as well as political momentum for action against air pollution and climate change, including actions like the increased collection of air quality data, carrying out joint research, developing new technologies and sharing best practices.
  • The theme for the Day is #CleanAirforAll.

Objective of the Day

The Day aims to:

  • Awareness: Raise public awareness at all levels—individual, community, corporate and government—that clean air is important for health, productivity, the economy and the environment.
  • Establishing linkages: Demonstrate the close link of air quality to other environmental/developmental challenges such as – most and foremost – climate change and the global Sustainable Development Goals.  
  • Best measures: Promote and facilitate solutions that improve air quality by sharing actionable knowledge best practices, innovations, and success stories.
  • Alliance: Bring together diverse international actors working on this topic to form a strategic alliance to gain momentum for concerted national, regional and international approaches for effective air quality management.

What’s polluting the ‘sky’?

  • Energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, driven by fossil fuels, have skyrocketed over the last half century and now make up more than two-thirds of all GHG emissions. 
  • According to the World Health Organization, air pollution kills millions of people a year worldwide.
  • Air pollution and climate change are intimately connected. As well as driving climate change, emissions of various toxic gases from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, is also a major source of air pollutants.
  • It’s a two-fold problem:
  • Health impact– tiny, invisible particles of pollution penetrate deep into our lungs, bloodstream and cells.
    • These pollutants are responsible for about one-third of deaths from stroke, chronic respiratory disease, and lung cancer, as well as one quarter of deaths from heart attack.
  • Climate impact: Air pollution also has a climate impact – short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) are among pollutants most linked with both health effects and near-term warming of the planet.
    • These pollutants include methane, black carbon, ground-level ozone and sulphate aerosols.
    • They have significant impacts on the climate: black carbon and methane, in particular, are among the top contributors to global warming after CO2.

World extreme air pollution events

  • In many parts of the world extreme air pollution events have become a seasonal phenomenon, almost as reliable as the monsoon or autumn foliage.
  • In early November, New Delhi and other cities in northern India experienced levels of air pollution that cancelled flights and kept people masked and indoors.
  • In Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and the Thai capital, Bangkok, these events occur in January and February.
  • In California and Australia, summer wildfires are being turbocharged by climate change, destroying habitat, and covering vast areas in a choking haze.

What India is doing to make its skies clear?

  • The Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) is also considering a request to defer the deadline for thermal power plants to meet air pollution norms by 2022, another two years.
    • Thermal power plants are one of the largest sources of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter (PM) pollution in India.
  • BS-VI standards: With the country now having migrated to BS-VI standards, quality petrol and diesel is provided in the country, which is an important intiative to fight against pollution.
  • National Clean Air Programme: In January last year, the Environment Ministry launched National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).
    • It aims to tackle the problem of air pollution in a comprehensive manner with a target to achieve 20 to 30 percent reduction in PM 10 and PM 2.5 concentrations by 2024 keeping 2017 as base year.

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