Tack­ling cli­mate change chal­lenge could save mil­lions of lives

Western Daily Press - - Uk & World News -

MEET­ING in­ter­na­tional goals to tackle cli­mate change could save around a mil­lion lives a year by 2050 just from re­duc­tions in air pol­lu­tion, health ex­perts have said.

The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) said the same hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties, such as burn­ing fos­sil fu­els in power plants and ve­hi­cles, that are caus­ing cli­mate change through green­house gas emis­sions are also caus­ing air pol­lu­tion.

The value of health ben­e­fits that stem from cli­mate ac­tion would be around dou­ble the cost of meet­ing the global Paris Agree­ment goals on driv­ing down emis­sions, the in­ter­na­tional body said at UN cli­mate talks in Poland.

In the 15 coun­tries with the high­est green­house gas emis­sions, health im­pacts of air pol­lu­tion are es­ti­mated to cost more than 4% of eco­nomic out­put, while mea­sures to meet cli- mate goals would cost around 1% of global eco­nomic out­put.

Switch­ing to low-car­bon en­ergy im­proves air qual­ity, a ma­jor ben­e­fit when dirty air is caus­ing around seven mil­lion deaths world­wide ev­ery year. And it would also have other health ben­e­fits, so for ex­am­ple a switch to cy­cling or walk­ing from driv­ing would also in­crease phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity that could help pre­vent dis­eases such as di­a­betes, can­cer and heart dis­ease. But a fail­ure to tackle cli­mate change will lead to health im­pacts rang­ing from ex­po­sure to higher tem­per­a­tures to death and in­juries from ex­treme weather events, the spread of dis­eases and wors­en­ing nutri­tion, as well as air pol­lu­tion, a re­port said. Dr Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus, di­rec­tor­gen­eral of WHO, said: “The Paris Agree­ment is po­ten­tially the strong­est health agree­ment of this cen­tury.

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