Tackling climate change challenge could save millions of lives
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.