PM2.5 levels in Bejing have decreased by 36% in just five years. Photo: © Tom Wang /

Cleaner air in Beijing and London

It is no longer news that urban residents around the world are breathing unhealthy levels of pollution. But there are differences in pollution distributions. PM2.5 pollution tends to be highest in low- and middleincome countries, whereas NO2 levels are high across countries at all income levels. The good news is that interventions targeting pollution at the local scale have proven to successfully improve air quality in some cities. For example, Beijing, China, reduced its PM2.5 levels by 36% in just five years thanks to limits on power plants and industrial emissions along with new fuel quality and emission standards for vehicles. London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone initiative delivered a NO2 reduction of 36% in the first six months after its launch in 2019. Hopefully this is just the start, as mayors in more than 45 cities around the world have made a commitment to provide healthy air for everyone and implement substantive clean air policies by 2025.

Source: State of the Global Air 2020,


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