Climate Change

Air pollution costs global economy $5 trillion every year

Pollution kills

Yesterday the World Bank put an estimate on “welfare cost” on the toll from indoor and outdoor pollution for the first time.

It estimated that premature deaths due to air pollution is costing the global economy $5 trillion annually, representing twice the economic output of the UK.

More than half of that burden falls on China and other developing countries.

The study, joined with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), entitled The Cost of Air Pollution: Strengthening the economic case for action states that 5.5 million people died in 2013 due to diseases associated with outdoor and household air pollution.

Researchers calculated the total cost by looking into lost labour income as the result of premature deaths and found that they were almost 1 per cent of GDP of South Asia, 0.25 per cent in East Asia and the Pacific, 0.61 per cent of GDP in Saharan Africa – where pollution was actually found to impair the earning potential of young people.

The report was also able to note that the bulk of premature pollution related deaths were in both children and the elderly.

Laura Tuck, vice president for sustainable development at the World Bank said that:

Air pollution is a challenge that threatens basic human welfare, damages natural and physical capital, and constrains economic growth.

“We hope this study will translate the cost of premature deaths into an economic language that resonates with policy makers so that more resources will be devoted to improving air quality.

“By supporting healthier cities and investments in cleaner sources of energy, we can reduce dangerous emissions, slow climate change, and most importantly save lives.”

Another study, entitled A Greener Path to Competitiveness: Policies for Climate Action in Industries and Products was undertaken by the Carbon Trust, and found that there is a growing body of evidence that there are multiple industries that can deliver deep emissions reductions while remaining competitive.

It found that clean technologies and emerging business models combined helps clear the path for sustainable business.

In other news, the Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECC) has stated that the UK is likely to fail its renewable energy targets for 2020 – which states that the country must meet 15 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources.

pollution infographic

Andy has worked as a freelance journalist for a number of years and has been published in some of the UK’s top newspapers. He is now the editor Commercial Waste Magazine and contributes to a large selection of headlines and blog articles on the site.

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