On Friday, participants in more than 150 countries participated in demonstrations as part of a global movement to pressure governments to act on combatting climate change.
The demonstrations on the last day of Global Climate Strike Week coincided with Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s trip to the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.
While some have applauded the climate strikes and demonstrations, others have questioned why these demonstrations and Thunberg’s appearance did not take place in Asian countries which are among the world’s worst polluters.
The statement is accurate. Pollution in Asia is far worse than in most of North America and Europe.
Locations in China, India and other parts of Asia tend to have the worst air quality in the world, while most of Europe, Australia and North America are not struggling with air pollution issues.
And some of the worst toxic sites in the world are in India, Russia, Central and South America and Africa rather than in Canada, the United States or most parts of Europe.
However, placing the blame on Asian countries does not address some important factors contributing to pollution.
Many companies headquartered in North America and Europe have outsourced their manufacturing to Asia, where costs are significantly lower than here.
The products — electronics, clothing and other consumer goods — are then sold to a consumer base here.
And waste generated in Canada has been shipped to Asian countries. The intent has been to send recyclables, but non-recyclable materials have also been sent.
All these factors mean countries and individual residents in Europe and North America play a role in pollution problems.
The pollution might come from Asia, but it is the result of choices made much closer to home.
Asian countries do not and should not get a free pass when it comes to pollution, but at least a portion of the responsibility is ours.
— Black Press
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