Climate change action needed to prevent wildfires: Mayors

  • Wildfires in Canada sent smoke to U.S., causing unhealthy air in East Coast
  • Visibility was limited in many areas as air quality worsened
  • Mayors of major cities blame climate change, and are calling for action

Joggers trot along the Reflecting Pool with the sun rising over the Washington Memorial and a thick layer of smoke, Thursday, June 8, 2023, in Washington. Intense Canadian wildfires are blanketing the northeastern U.S. in a dystopian haze, turning the air acrid, the sky yellowish gray and prompting warnings for vulnerable populations to stay inside. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

(NewsNation) — Wildfires in Canada pushing smoke into the U.S., causing cities to have dangerously unhealthy air quality, serve as a “stark reminder” of the harmful effects of climate change, the mayors of New York City, Montréal, Toronto, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia said in a statement Friday.

“Climate change is making many regions hotter and drier, causing longer and more intense wildfires like the ones we are witnessing today,” Mayors Eric Adams, of New York City; Valérie Plante in Montréal; interim Jennifer McKelvie of Toronto; Muriel Bowser, from Washington D.C.; and Philadelphia’s Jim Kenney said.

Areas in the East Coast have seen air quality improvements since earlier in the week — but conditions were still unhealthy in places such as D.C., which remained in a “Code Orange” status, according to AirNow. Canadian fires sent plumes of fine particulate matter as far as North Carolina and northern Europe, parking clumps of poorly rated air over the heavily populated Eastern Seaboard.

Some areas saw a dark haze in the sky, with smoke turning the air acrid and the sky yellowish gray. Experts warned vulnerable populations to stay inside.

To prevent this from happening again, the mayors, in their statement, called for drastically reducing fossil fuel use to halve emissions by 2030.

“Air pollution is a global issue that already contributes to millions of deaths, hospitalizations and missed work days each year in cities across the globe. It is crucial for governments, at all levels, to prioritize the climate crisis,” the mayors said. “Without urgent action, episodes seen this week will become increasingly common, impacting the lives of our friends, families and communities.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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