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Climate change politics is blinding us to the devastating effects of dirty air

Published in The Guardian website on the 20th February 2016

Story by John Vidal

A rickshaw puller on a polluted a street in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photograph: Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/Barcro

A rickshaw puller on a polluted a street in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photograph: Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/Barcro

Governments are failing to address the links between air pollution and global warming. Doing so would save countless lives globally.

It is the greatest environmental hazard of the age. Nothing focuses our concern for the future more, divides rich and poor, exercises science, business, politicians, old and young. It is an existential threat, a generational battle. All political and financial resources must be concentrated on stopping climate change.

But now that governments have signed up to the unambitious Paris climate agreement and pledged to try to limit greenhouse gas emissions, we must ask whether we have lost sight of everything else. Is the environment just about carbon and parts per million of gases in the atmosphere? What about the environment that we can smell, see and touch today?

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