UN: Action needed to clean the air for children

The United Nations has called for more investment in renewable sources of energy to protect children from air pollution in southern Asia.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric was speaking to reporters on Thursday. He said around 620 million children in Southeast and South Asia are breathing polluted, toxic air. He added that children are more likely to be affected than adults.

The UN Children's Fund, or UNICEF, has issued a statement calling for immediate action to address the problem. It said governments in the region and around the world should take urgent steps to reduce air pollution by investing in cleaner, renewable sources of energy such as solar power to replace fossil fuel combustion.

At an ASEAN meeting in Thailand this month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said most of the world's planned construction of coal-fired power plants is in East, South and Southeast Asia. He called for a ban on new construction from 2020.