Actions on air quality in North America: Canadian and U.S. policies and programmes to reduce air pollution

Air quality is a major challenge globally and is the single greatest environmental risk to human health. More than 90 per cent of the world’s population lives in areas that exceed the World Health Organization guideline for healthy air. In North America, Canada and the United States of America have made large improvements in air quality through regulatory measures and regional cooperation. However, more work is needed to reduce the negative health and environmental impacts of air pollution in the region. This report reviews North American regional conditions, trends, and policy responses to the challenge of air quality in response to the mandate provided by United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) Resolution 3/8. It provides an overview of the relevant legislative and management structures in North America and describes in-depth policy responses in the following key sectors: industrial emissions, vehicles and transport, waste management, indoor air quality, and agriculture. Case studies presented in this report focus on regional collaboration, subnational action, environmental justice, and action in the agriculture sector. The report also distills key lessons arising from the North American experience with air quality policy over the last half-century that are of relevance to other regions where air pollution is an urgent environmental, health, and development challenge.