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UN declares healthy environment – including clean air – a human right


Last week, the United Nations General Assembly passed a historic resolution declaring that everyone on the planet has a right to a healthy environment, including clean air, water, and a stable climate. By formally acknowledging the impact of climate change on human well-being, the resolution could allow citizens of many countries to challenge environmentally destructive policies under human rights legislation.

While not legally binding, this news could prove to be very important in protecting the planet and its people, especially from air pollution, which kills 7 million people each year. Almost everyone on Earth – 99% of the world’s population – breathes air that exceeds WHO air quality limits. Air pollution disproportionally harms women, children, the elderly, and the poor, and children who grow up in heavily polluted places develop irreversible health effects, like lower lung capacity, than those in cleaner areas.