Network Updates / Madrid, Spain / 2019-12-03

Pollution Pods at COP25 show climate change and air pollution are two sides of the same coin:

Immersive art installation at COP25 recreates air pollution experienced daily by millions, representing a major public health issue

Madrid, Spain
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This is a news release from the World Health Organization

Air pollution and climate change are two sides of the same coin: both are largely caused by the same sources and have similar solutions. Ambitious climate action has the potential to both safeguard our health and future, and to reduce the yearly seven million premature deaths from air pollution.

This immersive art installation at the COP25 UN climate conference in Madrid encourages negotiators, observers and world leaders attending the summit to walk through the pods, letting visitors experience the daily reality of air pollution lived through by millions. The installation aims to help drive ambitious action for health and climate, and was brought to COP25 by the World Health Organization (WHO), Cape Farewell, the Ministry for the Ecological Transition Spain, the Clean Air Fund and key partners of the BreatheLife Campaign.

One or two minutes inside artist Michael Pinsky’s Pollution Pods and visitors at COP25 might begin experiencing shortness of breath, but there’s nothing dangerous in the air in the pods. Safe innovative perfume blends and fog machines imitate the air quality of some of the world’s most polluted cities – London, Beijing, São Paulo, New Delhi – as well as one of the most pristine environments on earth, Tautra in Norway.

Outside the pods, however, air pollution has been declared a public health priority by WHO: largely caused by the same burning of fossil fuels that is driving climate change, polluted air is poisoning nine out of ten of us and killing over seven million of us prematurely every year. Children are especially vulnerable: 600,000 children die prematurely every year from air pollution related diseases.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO said: “We need to agree unequivocally on the need for a world free of air pollution. We need all countries and cities to commit to meeting WHO air quality guidelines.”

“The true cost of climate change is felt in our hospitals and in our lungs. The health burden of polluting energy sources is now so high, that moving to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems effectively pays for itself,” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “When health is taken into account, climate change mitigation is an opportunity, not a cost”.

Teresa Ribera, Minister for the Ecological Transition of Spain, said: “Air pollution and climate change are the two sides of the same coin. The symbolic installation of the Pollution Pods at COP25 should remind everybody that we are negotiating for cleaner environments, cutting emissions and gaining better health for all.”

WHO invites you to visit the Air Pollution Pods at the COP25 UN climate conference in Madrid, between December 2nd and 13th

Media Contacts

Marina Maiero

Technical Officer
World Health Organization

Arthur Wyns

Media Contact
World Health Organization

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