Have you heard the news on COP22 in Marrakech?

It seems like it was only yesterday that climate change and pollution concerns got momentum and grabbed the attention of governments and citizens during the COP21 in Paris – the yearly meeting (Conference of Parties) of the signatories of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The meeting resulted in the Paris Agreement and governments, businesses and civil societies gathered this year in Marrakech at COP22 from 7-18 November to push forward the Agreement.

The Paris Agreement in a nutshell

  • Adopted in Paris during COP21 (Dec 2015).
  • Has been ratified by 113 out of 197 Parties to the Convention and entered into force on November 5th.
  • Governments are obligated to keep the average temperature rise to maximum 2 degrees (Co) above pre-industrial levels, emissions should peak at 2020 and then decrease from there on.
  • Countries are to openly report on emissions and account for climate action.
  • Strengthens countries capacity to deal with climate change impacts through financial, technology development & transfer and capacity building frameworks.

After 10 days full of scientific, political, economic discussions and even art and musical events, Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded:

The landmark Paris Agreement set the course and the destination for global climate action. Here in Marrakech, governments underlined that this shift is now urgent, irreversible and unstoppable. She added that “Indeed, this year, we have seen extraordinary momentum on climate change worldwide, and in many multilateral forums. This momentum is irreversible – it is being driven not only by governments, but by science, businesses and global action of all types at all levels.”

Concrete results at COP22 in the key areas of finance, technological innovation and capacity building for climate adaptation include:

  • Multi-billion US dollar packages of support for clean technologies; building capacity to report on climate action plans, and initiatives for boosting water and food security in developing countries were pledged.
  • Businesses, investors and cities issued climate change commitments. The ‘We Mean Business’ coalition of organisations announced that in total, 471 companies with over US$ 8 trillion in market capitalization have undertaken well over a thousand ambitious commitments to climate action.
  • The Under2 MOU*  -A group of 165 countries and regions with a combined GDP of 26 trillion and 1 billion population, committed to reduce their emissions by 80% by 2020.


We can only work for more and more results to improve our environment!


United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – Nations Take Forward Global Climate Action at 2016 UN Climate Conference
The Climate Group – Under2 Coalition

*The Subnational Global Climate Leadership MOU is nicknamed the Under2 MOU in reference to: The goal of limiting warming to below 2° Celsius, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists say is needed to avoid dangerous consequences. The Under2 Coalition’s shared goal of limiting greenhouse gas emissions to 2 tons per capita, or 80-95% below 1990 level by 2050.

Meo’s Great News to Share!

Today we would like to share some exciting news about meo’s progress! We have been hard at work on many fronts in the past months and October has seen the fruition to some of these efforts.

We are very excited to announce that meo’s air quality solution is the first of its kind being patented. The HK Intellectual Property Office has validated meo’s air quality solution which is now “Patented”. Simultaneously, our trademark for the name and logo of meo has also been accepted as of early October.

You probably remember our recent call for social media support in our run for the Hong Kong CityTech award. Well thanks to your support, we received the CityTech Award from Civic Exchange and the Internet Society. The meo solution was selected and polled well, getting the third most votes via social media of 20 initiatives detailed on the website.

And the best part is that we are advancing well in our seed-funding round and are now able to dive into the optimization of our current prototype. We are making sure the product that will hit the market in December 2016 will have high quality, precision, accuracy and functionality.

Safe Indoor Air, Safe Businesses!

Air Pollution Effects Beyond Health

Interest and research focus on the effects of air pollution is increasing, and now spreading beyond the realm of health. The World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) published in September 2016 the report: The Cost of Air Pollution, Strengthening the Economic Case for Action. The objective of the report is to show the economic meaning of the health effects of pollution, beyond the purely health-related cost.

Since the 1990’s researchers have looked into the link between air pollution and chronic and even fatal health outcomes. The risk has been increasing with the burgeoning of urban life in developing countries and the need for rapid economic development in emerging economies. However, the use of wood, charcoal, dung and coal for heating and cooking in many rural areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America also contributes remarkably to the health risk from air pollution. The World Health Organization has recently said that 9 out of 10 people in the world are affected by air pollution.

According to a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), healthcare costs related to air pollution are projected to increase from the current 21 billion USD in 2015 to 176billion USD in 2060 (using constant 2010 USD values) with an annual projected number of lost working days of 3.7 billion globally (currently 1.2 billion).

What is interesting in the latest report from the World Bank is that it shows the effects of pollution on development. Beyond the health effects and the health costs, there is naturally a reduction in the quality of life, a reduction of income, reduced productivity and innovation, degradation of natural ecosystems, crop yields, perpetuation of inequalities and even decreased economic competitiveness to attract top talent. However, taking action in favor of clean air is costly and often seen as a brake on economic development in low and middle-income countries. The World Bank decided to further research on this matter to strike a balance between the gains of rapid development with no consideration to air pollution, and a more conscious development that understands the economic losses of increased air pollution. In fact the US Office of Management and Budget has acknowledged that the rules issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve air quality are the most economically beneficial federal regulations.

Key findings of the study show that it is estimated that since 1990 air pollution has been the fourth highest modifiable cause of premature death. In 2013 air pollution had a global cost of US$225 billion from lost labor income or US$5.11 trillion of losses in welfare, which is equivalent to the GDP of India, Canada and Mexico combined. Welfare losses in Asia (South, East and the Pacific) were equivalent to 7.4% of the regional GDP. Lost income in South Asia was of the magnitude of 66 billion (nearly 1% GDP). From 1990 to 2013 premature mortality attributable to PM2.5 increased by 30% while global welfare losses increased by 63% and labor income losses by 40% with a larger effect on men than women.

As more evidence on the economic effects of air pollution emerges, countries should be urged to measure their pollution at a wider scale in order to implement adequate policies.


The World Bank – The Cost of Air Pollution : Strengthening the Economic Case for Action

OECD – The Economic Consequences of Outdoor Air Pollution

Cities and Their Share in Air Quality Policies

Urban population is growing in all continents as people are attracted by the convenience of cities. However, it’s in the cities that people are most exposed to air pollution on a daily basis: the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80% of world citizens are breathing an air that exceeds WHO air safety threshlods. During COP21 in Paris, 1000 mayors from across the world made a firm commitment to reduce pollution in towns and cities. These mayors have committed to put ‘the health of citizens over that of industrial lobbies’.

C40 -the network of megacities committed to address climate change, has highlighted 5 key interventions to reduce pollution that are in the hands of city governments and are currently being implemented by many cities:

  1.  Restrictions on private motor vehicles
  2. Low-emission public transport
  3. Measurement and management to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Asian cities are also taking measures to various degrees:

Hong Kong, for example, faces two major air pollution sources: local street-level pollution and regional smog from power plants, marine vessels and industry both in the city and the Pearl River Delta. To tackle air pollution Hong Kong focuses on reducing emissions from vehicles via incentives to retrofit old diesel vehicles with particulate reduction devices, helping owners replace their old vehicles, controlling smoky vehicles, and subsidizing a trial of electric double-decker buses. HK government has also capped the locally supplied marine diesel to 0.05% sulphur [lower levels of sulphur content translate o lower levels of particulate matter being released into the air], all the government marine vessels use EuroV diesel, and all vessels are required to switch to 0.05% sulphur content while berthing. Finally, power plants, which have been restricted from opening new coal-fired plants since 1997 and instead are encouraged to use natural gas.

In Singapore the plan focuses mainly on urban planning and reduction of vehicle and industry emissions.

And Beijing, which started in the 1970’s to control coal-fired air pollution, and then in the 1990’s moved to control vehicles emissions through an integrated emission control system. This includes control of new vehicles, fuel quality improvement, promotion of new energy vehicles, driving restrictions, incentives to phase out older vehicles and shifting more public transport to rail mode. However, PM2.5 and O3 continue to grow especially due to regional characteristics and the influence of regional transport.

NGOs in Europe such as Clean Air London and in Asia such as Clean Air Network or Greenpeace call for more and bolder measures to reduce air pollution. Greenpeace advocates in China have called for a drastic reduction of coal-fired plants, Clean Air Network in Hong Kong advocates for more vehicle restrictions, low emission zones and stricter regulations for marine vessels at berth. It is clear that despite the introduction of air quality control policies, air pollution continues to be a problem, so there is more work to be done in this area.

A good starting point is giving citizens and governments better access to information on air pollution to push for stronger policies and to understand which policies have a greater impact on the air we all breathe!


C40 – Mayors from around the world won’t breathe easily until urban air pollution is tackled

C40 – Five ways C40 cities are taking action to curb air pollution