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

European Super League: Why more football is an imperfect solution to sport’s business model problem

‘Starvation’ now a reality for displaced Syrians stranded in camp near Jordanian border

Challenges facing the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns

EU and 15 World Trade Organization members establish contingency appeal arrangement for trade disputes

4 charts that show how technology is enabling the energy transition

It’s time to build a responsible media supply chain

Trump’s trade war splits the EU; Germany upset with Juncker’s “we can be stupid too”

‘No-deal’ Brexit preparedness: European Commission takes stock of preparations and provides practical guidance to ensure coordinated EU approach

Is flexible working here to stay? We asked 6 companies how to make it work

ECB to people: Not responsible if you lose money on Bitcoin, your governments are

Security Union: Commission receives mandate to start negotiating international rules for obtaining electronic evidence

4 key trends on how COVID has impacted women in business

Coronavirus: Commission proposes EU Strategy for the development and availability of therapeutics

UN General Assembly President upholds value of multilateralism in speech closing annual debate

When should you self-isolate, self-quarantine or social-distance?

Industrial policy: recommendations to support Europe’s leadership in six strategic business areas

David Cameron’s formal letter/threat that officially opens pandora’s box for the UK

90% of fish stocks are used up – fisheries subsidies must stop

Trump and Brexit: After the social whys the political whereto

5 technologies that will forever change global trade

Human rights breaches in Hong Kong, Russia and at the US-Mexican border

Password managers aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Here’s why

FROM THE FIELD: ‘Harvested’ rainwater saves Tanzanian students from stomach ulcers, typhoid

10 surprising things that rely on artificial intelligence

Will the European Court of Justice change data privacy laws to tackle terrorism?

Britain aligns with EU rivaling US on trade and Iran, abandons bilateral ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Tech can reach the world’s unbanked women – but only if they tell us how it should work

COVID-19 has accelerated India’s digital reset

UN condemns deadly attack against G5 Sahel force headquarters in Mali

EU budget 2022: Speeding up Europe’s recovery and progressing towards a green, digital and resilient future

Thursday’s Daily Brief: ambulance attack in Libya, #GlobalGoals defenders, human rights in Cambodia, Swine Fever

Chinese tech investors are turning towards MENA. Here’s why

Me and China

Consultant in Forensic Technology – 1969

South Asia can become an innovation hub. Here’s how

Mergers: Commission announces evaluation results and follow-up measures on jurisdictional and procedural aspects of EU merger control

Promoting ‘a healthy sustainable future’, the UN health agency engages young and young at heart to ‘Walk the Talk’

It’s time to disrupt Human Resources if we want talent fit for the digital age

It’s down to cities to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2030

Commission welcomes the political agreement on the proposal for a Public Sector Loan Facility of the Just Transition Mechanism

European Commission and four online marketplaces sign a Product Safety Pledge to remove dangerous products

Parliament wants to grant EU consumers a “right to repair”

Thousands returning to Nigeria’s restive Borno state ‘at risk’; UN ‘gravely concerned’

iSting: a reader’s thoughts on the UN Environment Assembly 2017

UN chief lauds Fijians as ‘natural global leaders’ on climate, environment, hails ‘symbiotic relationship’ with land and sea

Easing ‘classroom crisis’ in Côte d’Ivoire, brick by (plastic) brick

Education remains an impossible dream for many refugees and migrants

A Sting Exclusive: EU Commissioner Mimica looks at how the private sector can better deliver for international development

UN chief condemns air strike that hit school bus in northern Yemen, killing scores of children

European Youth Forum welcomes strong stance on human rights in State of the Union

Mexico cannot move forward ‘without addressing the shadows of the past’, says UN rights chief

This is what happened to CO2 emissions in the EU last year

Indexation of family benefits, child tax credit and family tax credits: Commission takes Austria to Court for discrimination

The European Parliament x-rays the troika’s doings

Migration crisis update: What are the chances of a fair deal at this EU Summit?

The staggering loss of the Arctic Ocean’s oldest sea ice shown in time-lapse

Antitrust: Commission fines US chipmaker Qualcomm €242 million for engaging in predatory pricing

Coronavirus: UN health agency moves fast to tackle ‘infodemic’; Guterres warns against stigmatization

What more than 32,000 people think about the future of work

More Stings?

Trackbacks

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

Leave a Reply to Clean air is good for business – The European Sting – ThePlanet1st Cancel reply

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