By Mario Casayuran
Nine out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air and that an estimated seven million people die every year from exposure to fine particles in polluted air that penetrate into their lungs and cardiovascular system.
Senator Loren Legarda, chairwoman of the Senate climate change committee, used this data from the World Health Organization (WHO) in celebrating this year’s World Environment Day.
Legarda urged everyone to contribute in improving the quality of air by implementing laws and avoiding the causes of air pollution within households, industries, and workspaces.
She said that every June 5 of the year is declared as World Environment Day to encourage worldwide awareness and action to protect the environment, with this year’s theme focusing on “air pollution” and a campaign to #BeatAirPollution.
“My message since the beginning has always been simple and clear: protecting our environment is protecting human health. We have the Philippine Clean Air Act, the Renewable Energy Act, and other environmental laws, which we must fully implement. These are not recommendatory policies. These are laws meant to save lives and improve the wellbeing of all Filipinos,” Legarda said.
According to the United Nations, the energy production industry is a leading source of air pollution, with coal-burning power plants and diesel generators as major areas of concern, as well as the global transport sector accounting for almost one-quarter of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.
Open waste burning and organic waste in landfills release harmful gases in the atmosphere and around 24 percent of all greenhouse gases emitted worldwide come from agriculture, forestry, and land-use.
Legarda also noted that, at the household level, the indoor burning of fossil fuels, wood, and other biomass-based fuels to cook, heat, and light homes account for around 3.8 million premature deaths, majority of which are in developing countries.
“May this year’s celebration of World Environment Day further remind us of our connection with the environment and our responsibility to take care of it as a means to ensure human safety, health, and wellbeing,” Legarda said.
Along with Legarda, Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Gregorio B. Honasan II, Francis “Chiz” Escudero, and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV will be ‘’graduating with honors’’ from the 24-man Senate having completed their two consecutive six-year terms on June 30.
The Senate honored the six at the Senate session hall before it adjourned sine die Tuesday night.