Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Explanation of Vote: United Nations 2nd Committee: Resolution on International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies

New York, 26/11/2019 - 21:17, UNIQUE ID: 191202_16
Statements on behalf of the EU

26 November 2019, New York – European Union Explanation of Position delivered by Agnieszka Klausa, European Union Delegation, on behalf of the European Union and its Member States at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Second Committee, 24th meeting on the Resolution on an International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies

Mr Chairman,

 

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

 

The EU and its Member States have joined consensus on this resolution, despite our serious reservations concerning its title.

 

We do, however, recognize the importance of the topic dealt with in the resolution, the issue of combating air pollution and improving the quality of air, and we thank the Republic Korea for drawing attention to it.

 

It is worth noting that poor air quality is the number one environmental cause of premature death in Europe, with over 390 000 premature deaths every year. Globally, the combined effects of ambient outdoor and household air pollution kill seven million people every year.

 

According to the WHO data, 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. It also impacts on quality of life by causing or exacerbating asthma and respiratory problems. Air pollution causes lost working days, and high healthcare costs, with vulnerable groups such as children, asthmatics and the elderly the worst affected.

 

Furthermore, air pollution crosses national borders and thus it is a matter of international concern that deserves our attention at the UN.

 

It is because of the importance and complexity of this important issue that we had hoped that the title of this resolution would be straightforward and clearly comprehensible to a global audience. For an initiative that aims to raise public awareness of the issue of air pollution and clean air it is regrettable that this is not the case. The EU strongly feels that UN General Assembly resolutions should not contain terms which are not globally understood, are ambiguous and may cause confusion, such as blue skies which lacks a clear definition and may limit the scope of the resolution.

 

Mr Chairman,

 

We would like to raise at this instance the issue of revitalization: the EU and its Member States attach great importance to this process which we deem crucial for making the Second Committee more efficient and more relevant for the most daunting task ahead of us, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is in this context that we assess all new initiatives, their impact and relevance. We do not necessarily believe that proliferation of international anniversaries brings us any closer to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. This issue might benefit from further consideration in the context of revitalization-related discussions.  

 

Mr Chairman,

 

I want to conclude by reiterating the EU’s commitment to combatting air pollution, and convey our thanks facilitator, all of those that took part in the negotiations and to the Secretariat.

 

Thank you.

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