World

Fight against pollution 'won or lost' in Asia: UN

BANGKOK:  Asia-Pacific - home to more than half the world's population and some of its fastest-growing economies - is a key battleground in the fight against pollution, one of the biggest threats to the planet and its people, the United Nations environment chief said.

An estimated 12 million people die prematurely each year because of unhealthy environments - seven million to air pollution alone, making pollution "the biggest killer of humanity", Mr Erik Solheim told the first Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit on the Environment in Bangkok this week.

Humans cause pollution and humans can fix it, said Mr Solheim, executive director of UN Environment, at the four-day summit.

"The struggle for a pollution-free planet will be won or lost in Asia - nowhere else," he said.

EMMISSIONS

The size of Asia-Pacific and its economic growth puts it at the heart of the challenge, he added.

Its emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide doubled between 1990 and 2012, and the use of resources like minerals, metals and biomass has tripled, according to the UN.

Asia has 25 of the world's 30 most polluted cities, according to the World Health Organization.

But Mr Solheim said solutions can be found in Asia.

"There's enormous environmental opportunity," Mr Solheim said.

"Asia has by and large strong governments, and they have the ability to fix problems."- REUTERS

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