News ID: 265534
Published: 0944 GMT February 12, 2020

Fossil fuel pollution behind four million premature deaths a year: Study

Fossil fuel pollution behind four million premature deaths a year: Study
JOHN GILES/PA

Air pollution from burning fossil fuels is responsible for more than four million premature deaths around the world each year and costs the global economy about $8 billion a day, according to a study.

The report, from Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, found that burning gas, coal and oil causes three times the number of deaths as road traffic accidents globally, the Guardian reported.

Children, especially those living in low-income countries, are particularly affected with an estimated 40,000 dying each year before they reach their fifth birthday because of exposure to particulate pollution from fossil fuels.

“Air pollution is a threat to our health and our economies,” said Minwoo Son, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.

“Every year, air pollution from fossil fuels takes millions of lives, increases our risk of stroke, lung cancer and asthma, and costs us trillions of dollars.”

The study, released on Wednesday, analyzed global datasets of surface level concentrations of common pollutants PM2.5, ozone and NO2 to calculate the health impact and the subsequent economic cost for 2018. It found:

  • NO2, from petrol and diesel vehicles, power plants and factories, is linked to roughly four million new cases of asthma in children each year. Approximately 16 million children live with the condition due to exposure to fossil fuel pollution.
  • Tiny particulate pollution – known as PM2.5 – is attributed to roughly 1.8 billion days of work absence because of illness each year.
  • China, the US and India are hardest-hit financially by the impact of dirty air with estimated costs of $900 billion, $600 billion and $150 billion each year respectively.

The study argues that the solutions to the air pollution crisis are clear – and would also help tackle the climate emergency.

It says moving to a clean energy and transport system would have economic as well as health benefits. It cites research published in the US recently by the Environmental Protection Agency that shows every $1 invested under the US Clean Air Act yielded at least $30 in return.

Likewise, a weekly car-free day in Bogota, Colombia, yielded up to $4 in health benefits for every $1 invested.

“This is a problem that we know how to solve,” said Son.

“By transitioning to renewable energy sources, phasing out diesel and petrol cars, and building public transport. We need to take into account the real cost of fossil fuels, not just for our rapidly heating planet, but also for our health.”

 

 

 

   
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