São Paulo is one of the ten largest cities in the world, with a population of more than twelve million inhabitants and represented, in 2012, 11,4 per cent of the Brazil’s GNP. Every day, more than five million cars, almost one million trucks and more than 40,000 buses circulate in São Paulo city area  (IBGE, 2016). Almost the entire bus fleet, as well as the trucks used in the main distribution systems of São Paulo (food, cooking gas, and freight transport among others) rely on diesel, contributing significantly to the increase of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions in the city, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.
In a 2016 survey about urban mobility issues, health emerged as the area of greatest concern, with 58 per cent of respondents , who are São Paulo citizens, and air pollution was considered the most serious kind of pollution by 64 per cent, compared to water, noise and visual pollution, indicating that São Paulo citizens are concerned about pollution and its negative effects on people’s health in the city.
The city of São Paulo should adopt WHO air quality guidelines and implement a roadmap towards achieving the recommended air quality levels. As the largest city in the country and with a new municipal management that pursues good practices and excellence in the provision of public services and technology offered to its population, São Paulo has the opportunity to lead the way, showing Brazil that cleaner air can be achieved.
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Making São Paulo’s air cleaner and healthier is a huge challenge. Overcoming it involves a wide range of measures, from large investments in public transport infrastructure and logistics that may improve the mobility to individual attitudes, which together can lead to great transformations. If the solution to the problem lies in a set of actions that depend on everyone, we must also work together to achieve this goal. Please click on the button to show your concern about air quality and climate change in São Paulo.
Photo credit: Global Call for Climate Action / Jon Spaulll