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Sanwo-Olu signs landmark air quality declaration to improve health, climate

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has signed the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration alongside Abidjan, Accra, Addis Ababa, Dakar, Ekurhuleni, Freetown, Johannesburg, Nairobi, and Tshwane as efforts to improve air quality.

According to him, Lagos is committed to improving air quality for its citizens and it’s the responsibility of every citizen to maintain it because together it can be achieved.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Governor made the announcement in a statement  on Saturday.

Sanwo-Olu said that he was proud to join the mayors and governors of nine other African cities in making an unprecedented, ambitious commitment to improve air quality with the signing of the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration.

“The need to breathe clean air is more important than the licence to pollute it. 

“Lagos has committed to improving air quality and I appeal to the responsibility of every citizen, because together we can”, he said.

The statement also revealed that by signing the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration, the governor of Lagos State recognises that breathing clean air is a human right, and commits to work toward safer air quality.

Mr Sadiq Khan, the Chair of C40 Cities and Mayor of London, in his remarks said that: “With COP27 being held in Africa later this year, I am delighted to welcome 10 new African signatories to the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration.

“As Chair, I am determined to do more to support cities in the global south, who are on the frontline facing the worst consequences of climate change.”

Khan also said he was focussing C40’s resources to help cities around the world accelerate their efforts to tackle climate emergency, reduce toxic air pollution, and address inequalities.

He lamented that the world was at a crossroads, adding that efforts must be made to allow cities around the world become greener, fairer, and more prosperous for all.

Mr Michael Bloomberg, United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions, President of the C40 Board and 108th Mayor of New York City, in his remarks noted that many of the world’s fastest growing cities are in Africa.

“We believe that the ten mayors can help show cities everywhere how to protect public health, fight climate change, and expand economic opportunity all at the same time.

Bloomberg also added that cities play a vital role in the fight against climate change.

“This new commitment is an important step to help build momentum and highlight Africa’s leadership in the lead-up to COP27 in Egypt later this year,” Bloomberg said.

NAN also reports that the statement read in part: “Under the Clean Air Cities Declaration, Lagos is improving public transport as a key component of Lago’s strategy to reduce air pollution. 

“The city will expand the bus rapid transit (BRT) network, installing new terminal hubs and lines allowing for additional users and trips.” 

“A low-emission bus pilot, replacement of older vehicles by 2025, and improved fuel quality standards will reduce public transport pollution.”

“Improved walking and cycling infrastructure by 2025 will increase active mobility, further reducing demand for private transport.”

“Other actions include rehabilitating three illegal waste dumping sites, increasing the uptake of LPG for cooking, and promoting solar photovoltaic systems on buildings.” 

It read: “Air pollution has become the second largest cause of death on the African continent, due in part to rapid urbanisation and industrialisation. 

“Approximately 1.1 million deaths per year have been linked to air pollution across Africa, according to a Global Burden of Disease study.”

“Approximately 59 million people across the ten African cities stand to benefit from cleaner air and improved health through commitments that are estimated to prevent as many as 10,000,” 

“Early deaths linked to air pollution exposure, as well as more than 300,000 hospitalisations, resulted in US$ 9.4 billion in annual savings from averted deaths and hospitalisations. 

“If Lagos reduces its PM2.5 concentration to 35 μg/m3 (World Health Organisation (WHO) Interim Target 3) by 2030, it could prevent 2,800 deaths and 155,000 hospitalisations per year.”

“This would save $2.3 billion annually (from avoided deaths and hospitalisations).”

According to it, if Lagos reduces its NO2 concentration to 10ppb (WHO Air Quality Guideline), it will prevent 2,300 asthma incidences per year. 

“This will save U.S.$ 200 million annually in related healthcare costs.

“Swift, unprecedented and collaborative action is needed to address the sources of pollution that are harming our health and heating our planet,” the statement read.

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