Madrid: You can now experience New Delhi’s high level of toxic air in this Spanish capital too, but with no harmful effects on your health!
In a side event at the ongoing 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or COP25, being held here in the backdrop of climate impacts biting globally, your visit to Michael Pinsky’s art installation Pollution Pods might begin experiencing shortness of breath.
But there’s nothing dangerous in the air in the pods.
Safe innovative perfume blends and fog machines imitate the air quality of some of the world’s most polluted cities — London, Beijing, Sao Paulo, New Delhi — as well as one of the most pristine environments on earth, Tautra in Norway, say the World Health Organization (WHO), Cape Farewell, the Ministry for the Ecological Transition Spain, the Clean Air Fund and key partners of the BreatheLife Campaign.
This immersive art installation encourages negotiators, observers and world leaders attending the climate summit to walk through the pods, letting visitors experience the daily reality of air pollution lived through by millions.
The installation aims to help drive ambitious action for health and climate.
Outside the pods, however, air pollution has been declared a public health priority by WHO: largely caused by the same burning of fossil fuels that is driving climate change, polluted air is poisoning nine out of 10 of humans and killing over seven million prematurely every year.
Children are especially vulnerable. Over 600,000 children die prematurely every year from air pollution related diseases.
“We need to agree unequivocally on the need for a world free of air pollution. We need all countries and cities to commit to meeting WHO air quality guidelines, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“The true cost of climate change is felt in our hospitals and in our lungs. The health burden of polluting energy sources is now so high, that moving to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems effectively pays for itself,” said Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.
“When health is taken into account, climate change mitigation is an opportunity, not a cost”.
Teresa Ribera, Minister for the Ecological Transition of Spain, said: “Air pollution and climate change are the two sides of the same coin. The symbolic installation of the Pollution Pods at COP25 should remind everybody that we are negotiating for cleaner environments, cutting emissions and gaining better health for all.”
The COP25 is taking place under the Presidency of the government of Chile with logistical support from the government of Spain.
This COP is an important as countries prepare to move from pre-2020 period under Kyoto Protocol to post-2020 period under the Paris Agreement.
In 2020, nations are to submit new or updated national climate action plans, referred to as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).