Alliance for Clean Air Launches Today, Showing Private Sector Commitment to Reducing Air Pollution

03 Nov 2021

Madeleine Hillyer, Media Relations, World Economic Forum,

  • Today 10 companies launched the Alliance for Clean Air, the first global private sector initiative to tackle air pollution
  • Air pollution is a global public health and climate emergency
  • Founding members of the alliance are committing to measuring and decreasing their air pollution emissions, creating healthier communities around the world
  • Read more on the Alliance for Clean Air here

Geneva, Switzerland, 3 November 2021 – Ten companies have today launched the Alliance for Clean Air, the first global corporate initiative to bring together leading businesses to tackle air pollution. These business leaders are committing to measuring their air pollution footprint and creating clear, actionable plans to help deliver clean air.

Though underacknowledged, the health of millions of people around the world is affected by air pollution every year. In 2019, it was the fourth leading risk factor for early death worldwide, surpassed only by high blood pressure, tobacco use and poor diet.

Despite the stark health case for action, this global challenge is inadequately addressed compared to other climate issues. By joining the alliance, founding member companies are playing a pivotal role in bringing down emissions and cleaning up the air for everyone.

“Both the climate and health impacts of air pollution are creating a growing public health emergency which much be addressed,” said Børge Brende, President, World Economic Forum. “Today’s announcement of the Alliance for Clean Air shows an important step from the private sector and shows the importance of cross-sector collaboration in addressing this urgent global issue.”

Alliance for Clean Air

Launched at COP26 by the World Economic Forum, in partnership with the Clean Air Fund, the alliance’s founding members include: Accenture, Bloomberg, Biogen, Google, GoTo, IKEA, Maersk, Mahindra Group, Siemens and Wipro.

Founding members of the Alliance for Clean Air will:

  • Establish air pollution footprints on nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, particulate matter within 12 months
  • Pinpoint where they are being emitted to track human exposure
  • Set ambitious targets and objectives to reduce the air pollution emissions, with a clear action plan
  • Act as champions for clean air by raising awareness among employees, customers and communities about the impact of air pollution. They will also help them to reduce their exposure and support them to take action to reduce pollution
  • Use their assets innovatively to accelerate clean air solutions

Many founding members have already started their own work on reducing air pollution. Initiatives such as IKEA’s Better Air Now project that turns crop stubble in India that would otherwise be burned into products or Google’s Project Air View to outfit its Street View cars with pollution sensors to measure air quality at a street-by-street level are examples of how business can be part of the solution.

Also at COP26, a practical guide for businesses on how to measure air pollution across value chains is being introduced by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and Stockholm Environment Institute, in co-operation with IKEA. The guide will support companies to understand their impact on air quality and to take necessary actions to reduce their emissions.

Expert thoughts

“We agree with the UNEP and the United Nation’s positions that access to a healthy environment is a human right", says Judith Wiese, Chief People and Sustainability Officer and Member of the Siemens Managing Board. "Reducing pollution is therefore not just an ecological issue but also a matter of social justice. I'm proud that Siemens is one of the founding members of the Clean Air Alliance, using technology with purpose to help reducing emissions."

“Air pollution is one of the biggest threats to public health today,” Jemma Read, Global Head of Corporate Philanthropy, Bloomberg L.P. “Through Bloomberg Philanthropies’ partnerships across the globe, we’re helping cities to measure exactly how much pollution there is, pinpoint its sources and understand the real-life impacts. And as a company, we're applying those lessons to our own operations in order to minimise our environmental impact. We look forward to accelerating these efforts as part of the Alliance for Clean Air.”

“In September the WHO lowered the recommended levels of pollutants considered safe for human health; more than 90% of the world’s population lives in areas which do not meet WHO’s previous pollution standards,” says Anirban Ghosh, Chief Sustainability Officer, Mahindra Group. “The situation is dire and we need urgent action to reduce our emissions and curb climate change. The Mahindra Group is proud to be one of the founding members of the Alliance for Clean Air, which aims to tackle the problem of air pollution at scale by helping businesses measure their own impact, influence their value chain and mobilize people and resources to make air breathable for everyone.”

Notes to editors
Read more about the Alliance for Clean Air and Climate Action Platform
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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.

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