Mongolia became the first country to join the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) BreatheLife campaign in an effort to combat air pollution in Ulaanbaatar.

The average air quality in the capital frequently measured 7.5 times higher than the World Health Organization’s safe limit in winter.

According to UNEP, Mongolia’s challenge with air quality includes persistent indoor sources of air pollution, such as the use of coal and wood-based cooking and heating methods, as well as outdoor sources like coal-fueled power plants , vehicle emissions, burning of garbage, unpaved roads, and dust coming in from the desert.

“Pollution is devastating for health, the economy and the climate. Mongolia is standing up to say that its citizens deserve a better deal,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

“We have the solutions, and more and more cities and countries around the world are starting to see that a focus on clean air is just that: a breath of fresh air.”

By joining the campaign, Mongolia commits to take real action to bring the air quality in urban areas back to safe levels. Supported by the organizations behind BreatheLife, the government will aim to manage fuel and emission standards in the transport and energy sectors; limit usage of raw coal for household fuel; facilitate diffusion of leading low carbon technologies, products, systems, services, and infrastructure; support policy implementation and holistic knowledge on waste management; and inform, educate and empower citizens through public awareness campaigns.

To achieve the development of a long-term sustainable and green economy, the government of Mongolia is supported by the Partnership for Action on Green Economy. This partnership supports nations and regions in transitioning key economic sectors into a more sustainable model by addressing inequality, create green jobs, advance green industrial development, and improve skills, knowledge and institutional capacity.

Air pollution is an extremely urgent and widespread health risk, affecting nine out of 10 people around the world. According to the World Health Organization, it contributes to the deaths of some 6.5 million people worldwide every year. Air pollution is also a significant contributor to climate change, threatening ecosystems around the world.

BreatheLife is a joint campaign lead by the World Health Organization, United Nations Environment and the Climate & Clean Air Coalition. This global campaign aims to mobilize cities and individuals to protect our health and our planet from the effects of air pollution. The campaign provides a platform for cities to share best practices and demonstrate progress, expand monitoring efforts, accelerate solutions and educate people about the burden air pollution poses to our health and our climate, and provide meaningful ways to take action both locally and globally.

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