Chargé d’Affaires, Nicholas J. Giacobbe, Jr. Remarks at the MCC closing event of the air quality project, December 14, 2021
Thank you, Petrit. It is an honor to be here today and join the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Millennium Foundation Kosovo, the Hydro-Meteorological Institute, and the National Institute of Public Health. Today we mark the closure of the air quality activities “Era Dimën” [EH-rah DEE-men], which were implemented through the Threshold Program over the past four years.
Good air quality means air that is clean and free from pollutants such as smoke, dust, and smog. Good air quality is a prerequisite for preserving the balance of life on earth for people, animals, and natural resources. We are all threatened when pollution in the air reaches high concentrations.
Last month, world leaders gathered for COP-26 in Scotland, where the United States rejoined the Paris Agreement and recommitted to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad. At the Climate Leader’s Summit earlier this year, the U.S. joined other major world economies, including the 17 countries responsible for 80 percent of global emissions, to tackle global warming. President Biden pledged to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030 — more than doubling our country’s prior commitment.
All countries must make difficult decisions on current and future energy generation and how to provide services to citizens while preserving the natural resources and not harming the environment – Kosovo included. We are working with our partners here in setting ambitious emissions targets and move away from highly polluting fossil fuels. However, tackling greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the environment is not a job for the government alone. As citizens, we all must do our part.
In Kosovo, poor air quality is among the most pressing concerns. And it affects our health and the environment on a daily basis. Pollution comes from human-made sources: emissions from old cars, toxic gases from industrial operations, coal-powered plants, burning wood or other material in the open air, and landfills. During the winter, air pollution in Pristina caused by household heating and coal-burning, antiquated power plants reaches unhealthy levels that often exceed the world’s most polluted cities.
This is why I am especially excited to be here with you today to present the results of our U.S. Government-funded interventions in air quality. These interventions have helped Kosovo institutions gather real-time data on air quality and set up the air quality health advisory website. They have facilitated heavy metals monitoring and established Kosovo’s national inventory of air pollutants. Finally, they have included outreach activities and informative sessions for stakeholders to ensure Kosovan citizens have the information they need to work toward improved air quality and make informed decisions about their daily activities.
Addressing world leaders at the Climate Summit, President Biden said, “Your leadership on this issue is a statement to the people of your nation and to the people of every nation, especially our young people, that we’re ready to meet this moment. And meeting this moment is about more than preserving our planet; it’s also about providing a better future for all of us.”
I look forward to supporting a healthier future in which Kosovan citizens enjoy clean air year-round. A future that can be realized by Kosovan leaders and citizens working together.