Groups backing a clean-energy economy for Nevada today urged government leaders to heed the warnings of an international group advocating for children and act to reduce fossil fuel pollution with investments in clean energy.

About 600,000 children under the age of 5 die every year from diseases associated with air pollution, more than die from malaria and HIV-AIDS combined, according to the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Members and allies of the RenewNV partnership called for action to reduce the deadly pollution that contributes to these deaths in the wake of the study.

Many of the children affected by air pollution are in poor countries, but the problem also hits close to home. In April, the American Lung Association issued a report that found metropolitan Las Vegas had the 9th worst air quality among cities in the United States, mostly because of pollution caused by automobiles and power plants burning fossil fuels.

Today’s UNICEF report on air pollution comes out one week before world leaders are expected to meet to discuss air pollution and climate change. The UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, will build on the Paris accords to limit climate-change producing air pollution that were signed last year.

The statements from clean-energy leaders follow. Southwest Energy Efficiency Project is a RenewNV ally and the Nevada Conservation League Education Fund and Vote Solar are RenewNV partners.

Tom Polikalas, Nevada representative, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project:

Cost effective energy efficiency programs produce health benefits for Nevadans as well as economic benefits. For example, a study published by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project estimated that almost $54 million in health care costs in Nevada alone could be avoided by 2030 through the reduction in sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide emissions by using energy more efficiently with cost-effective products and programs available today.

The same report indicated that cost effective energy efficiency programs could prevent more than $544 million in combined health care costs for the states of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.

Andy Maggi, executive director, Nevada Conservation League Education Fund:

This report gives great emphasis to our need to transition to clean renewable energy. People are literally dying because we continue to burn fossil fuels for energy. Decision makers need to decide if they are on the side of big global corporations or children.

Jessica Scott, regional director, Vote Solar:

Individual solar investment reduces the need for the expensive, polluting fossil power that is the source of so much harm in our communities, particularly for our children, seniors and disadvantaged families. The good news is that a transition to cleaner, healthier, 21st century energy sources like solar power is well underway. Empowering Nevada families and businesses to once again harness the state’s plentiful sunshine and be part of that growing clean energy economy will help everyone breathe easier.

RenewNV is a partnership of organizations working to build and enhance Nevada’s clean energy economy. Renewable energy means reliable power, clean air, and good jobs for Nevada, and smart energy policies can make the Silver State an economic powerhouse. RenewNV supports policies that will expand our use and export of renewable energy, increase opportunities for energy efficiency and ensure that all Nevadans have access to the new energy economy.