NEW DELHI: An estimated one million deaths each year and around 9,80,000 estimated preterm births, equating to an annual economic loss of 10.7 lakh crore, are attributed to air pollution from fossil fuel in India, according to a report.
The report from Greenpeace Southeast Asia estimates the global cost of air pollution from fossil fuels to be around $2.9 trillion, or 3.3 per cent of the world’s GDP annually.
India is estimated to bear losses equalling 5.4 per cent of India’s GDP annually, the third-highest cost from fossil fuel air pollution worldwide.
Another source of economic costs is that approximately 3,50,000 new cases of child asthma each year are linked to NO2 (nitrogen dioxide), a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion and as a result, around 12,85,000 more children in India live with asthma linked to fossil fuel pollution, it said.
“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,” said Minwoo Son, Clean Air Campaigner, Greenpeace East Asia.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report released in May last year showed that the mortality rate attributed to air pollution was highest in Sub-Sahara Africa and Central & Southern Asia with 187 and 170 deaths per lakh of population, respectively.
The report noted that coal fired power plants in India have repeatedly missed the emission deadlines set by the Ministry of Environment.
“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,” said Avinash Chanchal, Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace India.