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Lagos announces landmark air quality declaration to improve climate, health

Lagos announces landmark air quality declaration to improve climate, health

Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwu-Olu has expressed joy 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 mayors and governors making these new commitments represent Abidjan, Accra, Addis Ababa, Dakar, Ekurhuleni, Freetown, Johannesburg, Lagos, Nairobi, and Tshwane. They will be joining a global cohort of 38 cities including Durban, which became the first African city to sign the declaration in 2019.

The C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration sets a framework for cities around the world to improve air quality. Within two years, signatories to the declaration will establish baseline levels and set ambitious reduction targets for air pollutants that meet or exceed national commitments. These targets will put the cities on a path towards meeting World Health Organisation Air Quality Guidelines for particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and sulphur dioxide.

By signing this declaration, Lagos will continue to take bold climate action despite the many challenges faced in recent times, with the global pandemic, economic disruption, climate-related natural disasters and in many cases strained financial resources.

C40’s new African Cities for Clean Air Programme will help Lagos to achieve these commitments through capacity building, regionally-focused peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, and collaboration centred on air quality best practices.

Babajide Sanwu-Olu said: “The need to breathe clean air is more important than the licence to pollute it. Lagos has committed to improve air quality and I appeal to the responsibility of every citizen, because together we can.”

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 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.

Air pollution has become the second largest cause of death on the African continent, due in part to rapid urbanisation and industrialization. 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, resulting in US$ 9.4 billion in annual savings from averted deaths and hospitalizations.

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 US$ 2.3 billion annually (from avoided deaths and hospitalisations).

If Lagos reduces its NO2 concentration to 10ppb (WHO Air Quality Guideline), it would prevent 2,300 asthma incidences per year. This will save US$ 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.

Sadiq Khan, Chair of C40 Cities and the Mayor of London, said: “With COP27 being held in Africa later this year, I am delighted to welcome ten 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. This is why I am focusing C40’s resources on helping cities around the world accelerate their efforts to tackle the climate emergency, reduce toxic air pollution and address inequalities. The world is at a crossroads, we must all play our part in helping cities around the world become greener, fairer and more prosperous for all.”

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