Breathe Cities initiative gains new members at COP28

Major urban areas and capitals in Europe, Africa and South East Asia have joined the scheme, which aims to slash air pollution by 30% this decade.

time-lapse photography of vehicle on road during night time

The Ghanaian capital of Accra, Brussels, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Milan, Nairobi, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Sofia are all now members of the Breathe Cities initiative. Bloomberg Philanthropies, Clean Air Fund and C40 Cities made the announcement at COP28 in Dubai earlier this week.

Pilot programmes have already been launched in Warsaw (2022) and London (2019), with the schemes offering funding, technical support, data and analytics, community engagement, and capacity building to local and regional governments in exchange for membership. The project has been described as a ‘first-of-its-kind’ knowledge exchange.

Urban areas have so far been chosen on geographic diversity, air pollution and emissions levels, public engagement in environmental and political issues, the potential to scale up, and logistical capacity to implement action plans. A goal of reducing air pollution in member cities by 30% by 2030 has been set, which experts believe would prevent around 39,000 premature deaths, 79,000 new cases of childhood asthma, and $107billion in avoided hospitalisations. If the target is met, 284 megatons of CO2e emissions will be prevented.

‘Toxic air pollution is a dual threat, impacting both the public health of our cities as well as furthering the climate crisis,’ said Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who launched the Breathe Cities pilot alongside Michael Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s special envoy on climate ambition and solutions, and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

‘As co-chair of C40 Cities, I’ve seen how collaboration can accelerate progress on the challenges we face,’ Khan continued. ‘By partnering with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Clean Air Fund, we will be able to provide cities with the data and capacity they need to push for stronger and more effective policies that reduce air pollution and deliver cleaner, healthier air to their residents.’

More on COP28:

UAE PM2.5 ‘three times’ recommended limits as COP28 continues

Local governments step up to end fossil fuels at COP28

Image: Patrick C. Freyer


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