Air Pollution – A New Race Begins In 2019

What Are Smart Cities Doing To Improve Air Quality In 2019?

This year, World Environment Day 2019 was celebrated across the entire globe with a new theme called ‘Beat Air Pollution’ –  “call for action to combat one of the greatest environmental emerging challenges of our time.” As part of this inception, the UN presented some practical tips to defeat air pollution which we have discussed at the end of this article. 

United Nations has been campaigning for years to spread the awareness of environmental challenges and climate change across the globe. In this line, the previous year, the organisation fostered the boycott of plastic and this year the eye is on making way for the entry of cleaner air. 

We as common man know the perils associated with air pollution, but because we seldom witness this problem, we forget about it more often, that it is present everywhere and is affecting both our health and environment.

But looking at the smart city atmosphere as a whole, it seems that awareness is increasing. The past year observed several initiatives riping in different cities of the world. Again, this year we have come up with some new stories that reveal a new race against the rising air pollution. 

The Air Quality Challenge In NYC 

Every year, New York City witnesses over 2000 deaths and 6,000 emergency cases and hospitalisations as a result of air pollution, as per estimations. In addition, the city also faces 450 heat-related emergency department visits on average, 150 heat-related patient admissions, and 13 heat-stroke deaths. 

To combat the deadly consequences of air pollution the city has been showing efforts. This year the focus is on bringing the common man and the organisations under one roof in order to fight against the negative impact of air pollution using their very own innovative ideas and technologies.

The Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer has announced a competition known as ‘open innovation call’ in partnership with EIT Climate-KIC, a European climate-resilient community and Access Cities, a global organisation for sustainable urban development.  

With the new air quality challenge, NYC aims at trialling a winning solution city-wide, especially in those areas that are bearing a heavier burden of pollution compared to others. 

This open innovation call will be a very important milestone for achieving OneNYC, the city’s Green New Deal. This programme in collaboration with Access Cities is simply about exploring and sharing solutions to alike challenges that different cities experience. It is a competition planned as a parallel programme between NYC and Copenhagen. 

Businesses and individuals are enabled to apply for the NYC open call via two different approaches. The first one is based on products whereas the second one concentrates on urban design. 

Participants on both sides will be provided with the opportunity to exhibit their products and services or ideas to an evaluation panel from municipality agencies, academia, and other sustainability and resiliency thought leaders. 

The winners from the two different approaches will be awarded a variety of incentives. Up to five finalists from each approach will be nominated to present their ideas or solutions at a public event on 24 September 2019 during NYC Climate Week. The winners will be selected after the presentations. 

A Clean Game In Texas

Growing Air Pollution In Texas

As summer is here, people are out to breathe fresh air. And so to make this summer healthier for the Texans, Texas Department of Transportation has initiated a campaign called “Drive Clean Texas” to urge drivers to enhance their roles in making the city more clean and healthy to breathe. 

Cars and trucks contribute to half of the air pollution in some part of the state. Three areas namely Houston/Galveston, Dallas/Fort Worth and El Paso do not meet the clean air standards set by the Clean Air Act. While on the other side, Austin, San Antonio, Victoria, Tyler/Longview, Beaumont/Port Arthur and Corpus Christi are close to going beyond the healthy levels.  

Hence, in this regard, the campaign called the Drive Clean Texas is introduced which shows how simple changes in driving behaviour can contribute tremendously in improving vehicle and emissions and eventually air quality. 

The campaign will encourage active participation through its educational effort with Drive Clean Texas Road Trip Challenge Game. This competition will spread across the state, particularly in those locations where air quality is a serious issue. 

Instead of making it a monotonous educational campaign, It has come out to be a fun-filled game with interesting interactions that will enable people to learn about cutting down the harmful vehicle emissions. Surprisingly, this will start with a Drive Clean digital road trip on a large smartphone. Through the game, participants will get hands-on training in basic tips in vehicle maintenance for optimal clean driving. 

Some of those simple tips from the ‘Drive Clean Texas’ are:

  • Ensure your vehicle is well-maintained and the tires are inflated to recommended air pressure levels. 
  • Fuel your vehicle by tightly sealing the gas cap. 
  • Don’t overfill your vehicle as that can release harmful fumes. 
  • Abide by the speed limit rules and drive safe 
  • Prevent ticking over your vehicle for extended periods of time
  • Avoid driving aggressively with hurried starts and stops. 

Maiden Climate Action Week In London 

While the UK is rapidly moving ahead with climate emergency plans, London has decided to run a ‘climate action week’ for the first time in its history. 

The climate action week will be the time when hundreds of events, activities, and seminars will be held to explore solutions against environmental change and to foster green business development. 

The climate action week which will take place from 1-8 July 2019 will attract world-class climate expertise and talent from companies, NGOs, cultural communities. 

During the period, events will focus on clean energy, zero-emission transport, climate finance and investment, adaptation and resilience, and energy efficiency. It will explore solutions in the same line and promote campaigning for stronger legislation and engineering. 

Apart from the key events, from 19 July onwards, Londoners will also participate as well as host the National Park City Festival for 10 days. This event will support an atmosphere of celebration of London’s wildlife habitats, green spaces, waterways, and green rooftops. 

The climate action week will bring in an opportunity for industries, government, campaigners and communities to think together and act together to help reduce carbon emissions. 

Few Tips From UN   

These tips are for each and every one of us. Try practising at least one of these and celebrate each day as ‘World Environment Day’! 

  • Heating, cooking and lighting are the main sources of household air pollution. Try using cleaner and more advanced stoves that can reduce the negative effects. 
  • We know that transportation is one of the biggest contributors to air pollution. So, try switching to carpooling or commuting by public transport or even by keeping your car well-maintained. (The Texas Way!) 
  • Planning a holiday? Ditch planes and opt for boats instead. 
  • Methane-producing livestock is a big source of air pollution. As per the UN, methane is more potent than CO2. Embracing a plant-based diet and reducing food waste are two important ways to address this solution.
  • Renewable energy can be a life-saver in improving air quality. Learning clean habits such as turning off the lights and electronics while not using can be helpful. Besides, installing a solar panel on your house could be another great contribution.