10 July 2019
Myanmar is among the 15 most polluted countries in the world according to the World Environmental Index with air pollution peaking every year from January to April. Myanmar also ranked 169 out of 180 in the 2018 Environmental Performance Index.
About 80% of the people in Myanmar make use of wood to cook and kerosene to light their homes. This contributes radically to indoor air pollution and concerns several health problems especially women and children.
In Yangon, air pollution is mainly coming from traffic, diesel generators, construction, factories, burning of waste in the city and burning of agricultural residue in the rural areas. The expert pointed out to have better energy policy for the industrial zones, and encouraged the individuals to use public transport or bicycle so as to reduce air pollution step by step.
Director, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Dr. Axel Harneit-Sievers said “Some part of the air pollution that we see in Yangon today is coming from industrial processes. Some companies use coal, some companies use wood to burn in order to generate heat and energy. A good part of this could, of course, be replaced by electric energy - provided electricity was sufficiently and reliably available for industrial processes.”
According to World Health Organization, air pollution is responsible for 7 million premature deaths across the world every year including 22,000 people from Myanmar. For this concern, the United Nations chose air pollution (#BeatAirPollution) as the theme of this year’s World Environment Day. Under the theme, the European Union in Myanmar is also providing various initiatives to beat air pollution.
Deputy Director, EuroCham Myanmar, Marc De La Fouchardière said “we are very excited to hear some concrete solution on how to tackle this problem and because it’s a problem today. To involve the industries, the manufactures, the big players in this problem in a being part of a solution. We should encourage dialogue between private sector, decision makers, and development agencies to work for better future. We should do it together.”
Yangon City Development Committee is carrying out to tackle this issue through a 5-year research project, looking at four sectors in the city, from 2016 to 2020.
Deputy Chief Engineer, Polluting Control & Cleansing Department (YCDC), Dr. Aung Myint Maw said “Now we have 3-years air quality data so far and according to its, air quality is considered as good during in rainy season while air pollution peaks in the summer in Yangon. We also have plans to list the data of the main sources – where air pollution is coming from. Upon completion of our 5 years project, we will make data evolution and then we will start a pilot project to beat air pollution.”
Private sector also made great process in reducing their carbon footprints to beat air pollution on their own ways.
HSE & Security Manager, Total E&P Myanmar, Nyan Win Thu said “As we are the country's biggest international energy exploration and production company, we take responsibility by constantly monitoring emissions in order not to harm the environment and to beat air pollution. We are also striving to reduce to 40% from 66 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions as of 2025 under 15 years project.”
Being outdoors in Yangon last February was equivalent to smoking about 2.5 cigarettes a day, according to a research by Berkeley Earth.
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