THE African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD), a non-governmental organisation, has urged the Federal Government to address the rising menace of air pollution. In a statement, its Senior Programme Officer, Amodu Lawal, said: “Air is critical to human existence as without it, there can be no life. Yet, a polluted air has the capacity to unveil numerous health problems, including respiratory diseases that have led to loss of several lives even in Nigeria.’’ He noted that air pollution constitutes lead in environmental risks estimated to have resulted to seven million deaths globally. He said Nigeria ranks fourth deadliest globally with 150 deaths per 100,000 attributed to air pollution. Lawal said air pollution is common in Nigeria, particularly in the Niger Delta, where gas flaring is prevalent. The statement also noted that a report on gas flaring has shown a considerable increase despite government’s determination to reduce the danger. He said: “Air pollution is a big concern the world over. The respective peoples of the world, including Nigerians, can’t stop breathing due to the rampaging advent of air pollution and therefore it behoves on all stakeholders, governments, oil companies, communities and civil society organisations to work to reverse the phenomenon. This will, no doubt, help to improve our air quality and better impact on the lives of the peoples of the world.” This year’s World Environment Day held with the theme, ‘Beat air pollution’, urged people to explore renewable energy and green technologies and improve air quality in cities and regions. Spearheaded by China, the host of the World Environment Day celebrations, United nations (UN) Environment’s campaign theme was #BeatAirPollution. It culminated into many registered events and commitments. “Protecting our blue skies may be difficult, but our future relies on it,” UN Environment Acting Executive Director,, Joyce Msuya, said during the global celebrations in Hangzhou. “And they are our blue skies. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Beijing or Beirut, when we look up we see the same sky. And I think when we look to China, we see many examples of how to protect it.” Over the past decade, the Chinese government has taken drastic measures to limit air pollution in its biggest cities, bringing back blue skies in Beijing, Shanghai and other megacities, benefitting the health of millions. President, People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, said: “Humankind only has one planet. Environmental conservation and sustainable development are the common responsibility of all countries. Ecological civilisation is built into China’s national development architecture and strategy. China will work with any and all to implement the 2030 agenda to protect our only planet.’’ “Today, we face an equally urgent crisis. It is time to act decisively,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message to the World Environment Day. “My message to governments is clear: tax pollution; end fossil fuel subsidies; and stop building new coal plants. We need a green economy not a grey economy.” According to him, air pollution goes to the heart of social justice and global inequality.