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TOPIC: air pollution

Society

India’s Women Are Fighting Air Pollution — And The Patriarchy

India is one of the world's worst countries for air pollution, with women more likely to be affected by the problem than men. Now, experts and activists are fighting to reframe pollution as a gendered health crisis.

MUMBAI In New Delhi, a city that has topped urban air-pollution charts in recent years, Shakuntala describes a discomfort that has become too familiar. Surrounded by bricks and austere buildings, she tells an interviewer: "The eyes burn and it becomes difficult to breathe". She is referring to the noxious fumes she routinely breathes as a construction worker.

Like Shakuntala, women’s experiences of polluted air fill every corner of their lives – inside homes, in parks and markets, on the way to work. Ambient air in most districts in India has never been worse than it is today. As many as 1.67 million people in the country die prematurely due to polluted air. It is India’s second largest health risk after malnutrition.

This risk of exposure to air pollution is compounded for women. Their experiences of toxic air are more frequent and often more hazardous. Yet “policies around air quality have not yet adequately taken into account gender or other factors that might influence people’s health,” Pallavi Pant, a senior scientist at the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit in the U.S., told The Wire Science.

“It’s unacceptable that the biggest burden [rests on] those who can least bear it,” Sherebanu Frosh, an activist, added. People like her are building a unique resistance within India.

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Severodonetsk Cut Off, Extreme EU Heat, BoJo Croissant

👋 Aloha*

Welcome to Tuesday, where the Russian army destroys the three bridges connecting Severodonetsk, Spain and France are hit by record temperatures and the WHO says clean air could extend life expectancy by years. Meanwhile, Ukrainian daily Livy Bereg takes us on a tour of the pro-Ukrainian street art that has been flourishing on walls around the world.

[*Hawaiian]

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How COVID-19 Environmental Optimism Went Up In Smog

PARIS — It was touted last spring as the silver lining of the coronavirus crisis: the lockdowns and travel bans might wind up being a boon for the environment. Air pollution numbers were down, urban birds could be heard chirping and photos circulated of blue skies above some of the typically smoggiest cities in the world.

No place more emblematic than New Delhi, by some measures the world's most polluted city, that appeared cleaner than it had in recent memory. Air pollution levels in April were a fraction of their usual size across much of South Asia — with India's Indo-Gangetic Plain recording one-fourth the pollutants it had in April 2019.

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Infographic: New Delhi Air Pollution

Air pollution has reached record levels in the Indian capital. In some areas, it's at least 10 times higher than the World Health Organization acceptable norms. But it appears some action is finally taking place ...

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EL ESPECTADOR
Carlos Felipe Pardo

What Bogota Can Learn About Traffic Jams From Singapore And Shanghai

Latin American governments have shown scant interest in restricting cars and improving public transport. But some citizens in smoggy Bogotá have chosen a different path.

BOGOTÁ — Could people start making cleaner air a priority over cars? Cities such as Singapore have successfully cut pollution by restricting car use. Now, perhaps in a sign of our times, people are warming to the idea in the Colombian capital of Bogotá, where cars are still king.

The Catharsis Bogotá project, a polling initiative backed by El Espectador and Despacio, has asked residents to offer their views on how the city could improve life and mobility. In a departure from Latin America's love of personal mobility, many respondents have urged the city to curb car use.

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Russia
Vera Sitnina

How Mega Polluters Make Moscow Stink

In Russia's capital, environmental protection is victim of manufacturers who don't want to reform and a government that won't challenge them. The result is there for all to see...and smell.

MOSCOW — The Russian constitution actually guarantees the right to clean air. But as with other constitutional rights, exercising and protecting them isn't always simple.

According to data from the Ministry of Emergency Situations, more than two million Muscovites complained about a sulfurous smell Nov. 10. Some Russian cities have perennially unpleasant smells and no one complains, but that's not the case in Moscow. The smell of rotten eggs prompted widespread concern, but it seems that the government has yet to investigate the matter. Or if it has, it hasn't said so.

The incident highlights the significant failings of environmental protectionism in Russia, where legislation is behind the times and polluters go not only unchecked but also unmeasured.

In the case of last month's incident, it's not clear who's responsible for telling citizens what happened and why, so no one knows what, if any, measures have been taken to ensure it doesn't happen again. In Moscow, there are four different agencies responsible for environmental protection, and an additional city agency handles air quality. Each plays a different role in preventing and responding to instances of unacceptably high emissions.

Lack of coordination between the different agencies was painfully clear in November. Some said the smell was dangerous, while others said it was harmless.

"We have a lot of possible scenarios," Moscow’s Environmental Department chief said then. "Right now we're working with all the regions, trying to clear up the reasons for the malfunction. We should have answers by the end of the day."

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Future
Audrey Garric

Biofuel On The Fire? New Study Says Renewable Energy Causes Pollution

PARIS - It is a new stain on the already tarnished reputation of biofuels. After being accused of aggravating food insecurity and driving up food prices, accelerating tropical deforestation and even increasing greenhouse gas emissions, crop-based biofuels are now being accused of worsening air pollution and creating health problems.

The European Union’s target of 10% renewable energy in the transport sector by 2020 in order to reduce the effects of climate change, could in fact be aggravating ozone pollution and causing nearly 1,400 premature deaths every year, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

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