Clean air is good for business

sunset

(Brian Garcia, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Jane Burston, Executive Director, Clean Air Fund & Andreas Ahrens, Head of Climate, Project Manager, Climate Positive Strategic Initiative, Sustainability Range & Supply, IKEA of Sweden AB


The announcements from the UN’s Climate Action Summit shared one distinct feature – each thematic focus included a private sector CEO that accepted the challenge to act on climate and air pollution. It was a clear message to the world leaders gathered at the General Assembly: in order to solve the global climate and air crisis businesses need to play a key role.

This is welcomed – the WHO has analyzed that air pollution affects more than 90% of the world’s population – making this a global health priority that requires action at comparable levels by both the public and private sectors.

Poor air quality can have a very negative effect on economies, leading to trillions in costs, particularly in healthcare and reduced labour productivity. Poor air quality makes it much more likely that employees will get sick – from coughs and sore throats to lung cancer and heart disease – and that cognitive performance will drop, and productivity with it. It is predicted that by 2060, there will be 3.8 billion lost working days annually due to the effects of air pollution.

Air pollution caused 5.5 million premature deaths in 2013, and these numbers are rising.
Image: OECD’s The Economic Consequences of Air Pollution

Air pollution causes illness and lost working days.
Image: OECD’s The Economic Consequences of Air Pollution

Some sectors suffer more consequences than others: pollution leads to reduced crop yields, reduced electricity generation from solar panels and the stifling of international tourism. Polluted cities like Delhi are experiencing new levels of brain drain, with people who have the capacity and means migrating to cities with better air quality.

Businesses can lead the way in changing the course of our response to the air crisis by injecting a sense of urgency. They can do so by raising awareness among employees and customers and actively reducing emissions from production and transportation. The private sector can also support innovation in clean technologies, sustainable products and clean air solutions. Forbes reports that 88% of people surveyed want brands that are ethical and do good for the environment.

A handful of progressive businesses are already engaging on air pollution. We’ve included three stories below, and we hope this inspires more leaders to think about how their business can get involved:

Accelerating Climate Action

A 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found we have until 2030 – just 11 more years – to avert climate change.

The run-up to 2020 is a crucial period for delivering sufficient climate action to limit global warming to 1.5°C, as countries move to expand their climate commitments.

To help meet this global challenge, the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Sustainable Development Impact summit has made Accelerating Climate Action one of four focus areas.

Following the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit this month, this meeting will bring together stakeholders to cap global warming at 1.5°C through innovative partnerships and smart technologies. The action areas include heavy industries and transport, energy innovation, nature-based climate solutions, restoring ocean health and the role cities, among others.

IKEA – Repurposing a waste product to reduce air pollution in Northern India

Every year, farmers in Northwest India burn 39 million tons of rice straw residue on their farms in order to clear the field for the next harvest. This open burning is one of the root causes of the air pollution in Delhi, and across India, which is home to 9 out of 10 of the worlds most polluted cities. This pollution is estimated by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to result in a loss of $30 billion USD annually.

IKEA’s new FÖRÄNDRING collection, to be launched in fall 2019, uses the rice straw residue as a raw material for products. This provides a viable alternative to open burning for farmers, and turns a waste product into a valuable resource, while simultaneously reducing air pollution. IKEA hopes the FÖRÄNDRING collection will help raise awareness on air pollution and crop burning.

Google – Raising pubic awareness through improved air quality monitoring

In London, high levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air are widespread and detrimental to lung health. Local groups are pushing for WHO-compliant national air quality limits and greater sub-national action across the UK, and at the same time are trying to find out hyperlocal air quality statistics to help schoolchildren and other vulnerable groups avoid the most polluted roads.

The Breathe London project aims to assist in this effort – and the many more like it around the world – by building the world’s largest network of air pollution sensors to measure neighbourhood level air quality and to see how effective such monitoring could be for cities elsewhere. Improved data monitoring can be leveraged to raise awareness, drive citizen action, and inform evidence-based policy changes. It also makes it harder for companies to hide air-polluting activities.

As part of the project, Google equipped two Google StreetView cars with state-of-the-art mobile monitoring technology. The sensors measured levels of harmful air pollutants across 40,000km in London.

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) CEOs Forum on Air Pollution– Bringing governments, civil society, and businesses together

Collaboration between businesses, civil society, and governments is essential, as we need government and policymakers to help pave the way for changes to happen more easily and efficiently, to reduce risk and enable more businesses to confidently take steps in the right direction.

As drivers of innovation, and both polluters and solution providers, business leaders are in a key position to lead the change we need to see in policy through pioneering case studies emphasizing the benefits of tackling air pollution for sustainable economic growth.

For this reason, the Confederation of Indian Industry is mobilizing business leaders in India to commit to reducing air pollution. Leaders will convene via the CEO Forum on Air Pollution in India to learn from each other, and build multi-sectoral partnerships to drive cross-sectoral action. Regular interaction between industry leaders and policymakers will spur the process of decoupling economic growth from air pollution, ultimately helping in the design and implementation of new regulations to control air pollution from specific sectors.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Z, V or ‘Nike swoosh’ – what shape will the COVID-19 recession take?

My twin from Guangzhou

Hate speech exacerbating societal, racial tensions with ‘deadly consequences around the world’, say UN experts

This farmer used an age-old technique to save his soil and now his farm is prospering

10 of Albert Einstein’s best quotes

European Commission presents comprehensive approach for the modernisation of the World Trade Organisation

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s new risk assessment shows need to step up coronavirus response in the EU

What is an immunity passport and could it work?

Preparing medical students for new challenges in medical ethics

New citizenship law in India ‘fundamentally discriminatory’: UN human rights office

EU will not deliver on promises without democratic accountability

EU/African, Caribbean and Pacific partnership: MEPs list key aims for renewal

UN human rights ruling could boost climate change asylum claims

Germany caught with selfish double standards in euro area policy

Eurozone 2013: Where to?

How COVID-19 is ending the stigma of online learning

5 ways governments can unleash the power of young entrepreneurs

First aid in six months reaches families in western Yemen, ‘timelines’ slip over Hudaydah ceasefire talks

COVID-19: Team Europe supports African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to access finance through digital technology

FROM THE FIELD: Restoring life to Ghana’s land

The world’s largest bus system is starting to go electric

Why good cybersecurity in business is everyone’s responsibility

Commission and industry invest €22 billion in new European Partnerships to deliver solutions to major societal challenges

A busy year in the UN Security Council: more openness, diversity mark 2019

Cyprus banks under scrutiny

Vulnerable children face ‘dire and dangerous’ situation on Greek island reception centres, UNICEF warns

Gender gap in medicine: from when, why and until when?

The Bank of China at European Business Summit 2015

With potential to boost profits by up to 20 per cent, a woman’s place is at work, says UN labour agency

How to close the gender pay gap in three steps

Myanmar: New UN envoy offers to serve ‘as a bridge’, recognizes ‘positive steps’ over Rakhine state

European Commission launches Green Consumption Pledge, first companies commit to concrete actions towards greater sustainability

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “It is the implementation, Stupid!”, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble points the finger to Greece from Davos

Your diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are missing the point. Here’s how to fix them

‘Virtual Biopsy’ device detects skin tumours in 15 minutes

Victim-centred laws ‘paramount’ to combat online sexual abuse against children

UN relief chief urges Security Council to back aid delivery, more funding for millions of Syrians hit by harsh weather

AI looks set to disrupt the established world order. Here’s how

This is what a planet-wide network of ocean sanctuaries could look like

World Youth Skills Day: What you need to know for 2020

China is now heavily endorsing its big investment flow in the Central Eastern European (CEE) countries

MWC 2016 LIVE: Gamelab founder talks Apple TV, VR and monetisation

Parliament boosts efforts to improve its environmental performance

Cybersecurity has much to learn from industrial safety planning

How can we overcome the racial barriers to global health parity?

Collaboration and connectivity at ITU Telecom World 2019

‘Well-being of two million’ in Gaza at stake as emergency fuel runs dry: UN humanitarian coordinator

Boardroom warriors: how CEOs are becoming champions of change

Europe’s poor investment in digital is threatening prosperity. Here’s what its start-ups need

Bank resolutions and recapitalisations by the ESM may end up politically swayed

COVID-19 WAVE III: Were the Lessons Learned from Last Year Implemented?

5 key lessons for energy transition from COVID-19 recovery

The Chinese solar panels suddenly became too cheap for Europe

Hollande decisively rebuffs Merkel’s and Rehn’s austerity policies

Instability in Africa’s Sahel, spreading outwards, Security Council told

Iraq protests: UN calls for national talks to break ‘vicious cycle’ of violence

Brussels wins game and match in Ukraine no matter the electoral results

Kellen Europe Hosts EuroConference 2016

From Kenya to China, here’s why countries should start working together on AI

How to ensure vaccine equity, build trust and strength global health systems

More Stings?

Trackbacks

  1. […] Aeronautical | September 26, 2019 | No Comments […]

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s