Air pollution from fossil fuels costs India US$150 billion annually, reveals a new report

Greenpeace India

(Report estimates one million deaths each year in India due to air pollution generated from burning fossil fuels)

New Delhi, 13th February – A report, first of its own kind, from Greenpeace Southeast Asia estimates the global cost of air pollution from fossil fuels to be around US$2.9 trillion, or 3.3% of the world’s GDP annually. According to the report, India is estimated to bear 10.7 lakh crore (US$150 billion), or 5.4% of India’s GDP annually, the third highest costs from fossil fuel air pollution worldwide. China mainland with US$900 billion bears the highest costs followed by the United States with US$600 billion and India.

The analysis also suggests that an estimated one million deaths each year and approx. 980,000 estimated preterm births, equating to an annual economic loss of 10.7 lakh crore (US$150 billion) is attributed to air pollution from fossil fuel in India. Another source of economic costs is that approximately 350,000 new cases of child asthma each year are linked to NO2, a by-product of fossil fuel combustion. As a result, around 1,285,000 more children in India live with asthma linked to fossil fuel pollution. Exposure to pollution from fossil fuels also leads to around 49 crore days of work absence due to illness.

Air pollution : A threat to our health and our economies

“Air pollution is a threat to our health and our economies. 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. But this is a problem that we know how to solve, 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,” said Minwoo Son, Clean Air Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.

“The country spends around 1.28% of the GDP on health while air pollution from burning fossil fuels costs an estimated 5.4% of India’s GDP. This year the central government allocated only Rs 69,000 crore for the health sector in the union budget. This makes it clear that as a country we must fix our priority and stop burning fossil fuels which are harming our health and economy both. ,” said Avinash Chanchal, Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace India.

It must be noted that coal fired power plants in India have repeatedly missed the emission deadline set by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

“Strict action must be taken against non-compliance of thermal power plants. The government must ensure the construction of new coal-fired power plants is halted and existing plants must be shut down in phases. Moving our energy generation sector from fossil fuels to renewables would help to prevent premature deaths and vast savings in health costs. A just energy transition to renewable energy is feasible, and we can’t afford to wait any longer.  Government and fossil fuel companies need to take action now.,” Chanchal concluded.

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