BD breaths prolonged toxic air: Amnesty

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Staff Reporter :
The air quality of the big cities, especially in Dhaka, has been deteriorating rapidly, and the capital is being listed at the top of the worst air quality index almost every day compared with other south Asian countries.

Among the major polluters responsible for the worst quality of air in Dhaka, it has always been reported that ubiquitous construction work is done without following manuals and poor law enforcement while brick kilns and rundown vehicles are bellowing out black smoke.

Amnesty International has stated that Bangladesh has been facing prolonged exposure to toxic air quality, risking the lives and health of its vast population.

The organisation came up with the statement while responding to the new report naming three South Asian countries-Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India-having the worst air quality globally at a time when the World Meteorological Organisation has issued a’red alert’ for global warming indicators.

Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Climate Adviser, said, “The climate’red alert’ in addition to prolonged exposure to toxic air quality in many parts of the South Asian region illustrates the risk of harm to life and health of more than a billion people from accelerating climate chaos.”

“There has been little concerted action by both the affected countries as well as the high-income fossil fuel producers that are planning to expand, not reduce production, to tackle this problem, which is largely driven by the burning of fossil fuels,” she further said.

The climate’red alert’ in addition to prolonged exposure to toxic air quality in many parts of the South Asian region illustrates the risk of harm to life and health of more than a billion people from accelerating climate chaos, Amnesty said.

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“We reiterate our calls to the affected South Asian countries to urgently create and implement a cross-border pollution action plan and to the international community, especially historical emitters with the greatest responsibility for climate change and others in a position to do so, including high-income fossil fuel-producing states, to deliver adequate finance to help countries adapt to climate change as well as to ensure the operationalization and capitalization of the Loss and Damage Fund this year,” Ann Harrison said.

“This is essential to help safeguard public health and human rights in countries already suffering climate change-induced harms that are set to worsen.

The need for a full, fast, fair, and funded fossil fuel phase-out, accompanied by a just, equitable, and human rights-compliant transition to renewable energy for all, cannot be put off any further,” she further said.

Air quality in South Asia is of particular concern, with 29 of the 30 most polluted cities in India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh.

In 2023, the average air quality in Bangladesh exceeded WHO safety guidelines by nearly 16 times, making it the country with the worst air quality globally.

Climate change and air quality are inextricably linked, as the same pollutants that cause climate change also harm air quality, putting at risk people’s rights to life and health, as well as the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.

The impacts of air pollution have also worsened due to the hotter climate. The new ‘State of Global Climate’ report by the World Meteorological Organisation issued a’red alert’ as it confirmed 2023 as the hottest year on record by a clear margin, Amnesty said.
The organisation said that urgent international cooperation and assistance were necessary to combat the impact of climate change on air pollution in South Asia.

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