FIA Foundation outlines plan for healthier cities at BAQ 2018
The FIA Foundation presented a range of clean energy and transport solutions for healthier cities at the 10th Better Air Quality Conference (BAQ 2018) in Kuching, Malaysia.
The event, which focuses on air quality across Asia, called for an urgent shift towards clean energy and transport solutions, outlining that tackling sources of CO2 emissions will be key to mitigate climate change as well as improve air quality and health outcomes in the region.
The FIA Foundation presented programmes of action from the Child Health Initiative (CHI), the Real Urban Emissions Initiative (TRUE) and the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) designed to encourage policies for cleaner vehicles, and to drive multisectoral approaches to urban design, road safety, and child rights to improve air quality and, as a result, public health.
The conference identified the importance of leveraging multisectoral support for policies that tackle climate change, air pollution and environmental public health, and focused on ‘win-win-win’ solutions to address all three issues simultaneously. The BAQ Conference Declaration outlined the need for more real-world emissions data and to focus on the health impacts of poor air quality on vulnerable populations, such as children, as priority areas to urgently move the forward the agenda.
Two critical reports shortly ahead of the conference added a sense of urgency. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that 93% of children under 15 are breathing dangerously polluted air, affecting the health and development of 1.8bn children worldwide. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed that the current efforts to limit global warming to 2 degrees as outlined in the Paris Agreement could still pose an existential threat to the planet, urging action to be stepped up to limit change to 1.5 degrees of warming.
GFEI has established in-country work across South East Asia and continues to support the development of fuel economy policies in region that reduce CO2 emissions. In ASEAN, GFEI worked with Clean Air Asia in 2011 to promote the issue of developing fuel economy and regional harmonization, through a regional study and series of meetings as part of the Better Air Quality Conferences starting in 2010 in Singapore.
In a full day technical workshop brought together 60 participants from countries working to develop their own fuel economy policies. The workshop was run by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) - a regional economic forum - through Thailand National Metal and Materials Technology Center (MTEC), GIZ, Clean Air Asia, and UN Environment. Updates from countries including Nepal, Malaysia, and the Philippines, demonstrated progress, but also identified that much more had to be done to fully commit to the Paris Agreement.
The first global estimate of the health impacts of real-world diesel vehicle nitrogen oxides (NOx) was presented at the TRUE workshop by the International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT). NOx emissions – produced mainly by diesel vehicles - have a significant impact on air quality and global health, with many governments hoping that vehicle regulation can address the issue. However, despite tightened emissions limits in Europe, NOx emissions from diesel cars has not decreased. These ‘excess’ emissions are said to be responsible for 38,000 premature deaths every year. More than 80% of the health impacts are experienced in China, India and the EU 28.
During the TRUE workshop ICCT Senior Researcher, Josh Miller, and Hong Kong Senior Environmental Protection Officer, Y.S Yam, outlined how real-world testing of vehicles is vital to help governments form policy based on accurate data. This type of testing in Hong Kong started in 2014, the results of which, Mr Yam explained, have directly influenced policy making.
The effects of rapid urbanisation and motorisation means cities are increasingly becoming hostile environments for children and adolescents, with both road traffic injury and poor air quality having potentially devastating health impacts. The Child Health Initiative (CHI) brought together a coalition of partners to present multisectoral approaches to improving air quality across urban design, sustainable mobility, health and child rights.
By focusing on young people and having a simple advocacy ask – a safe and healthy journey to school – CHI is aiming to move forward multiple agendas to improve air quality and health, and to unlock solutions that create sustainable cities that work for all. Speakers from UNICEF, ITDP, ARUP, WHO, Child Friendly Smart Cities, Clean Air Asia and FIA Foundation presented regional cases studies on tactical urbanism, programmes to promote safe walking and cycling infrastructure, air quality monitoring focused on youth engagement and the health impacts of air pollution unique to children.