Greenpeace says air pollution costs the world US$8 billion a day

Tourists visit The Taj Mahal under heavy smog conditions in Agra, on Dec 28, 2019.
Tourists visit The Taj Mahal under heavy smog conditions in Agra, on Dec 28, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (BLOOMBERG) - Air pollution from burning fossil fuels is generating economic losses of US$8 billion (S$11.09 billion) a day, according to a Greenpeace report.

That's about 3.3 per cent of global gross domestic product, or US$2.9 trillion per year, according to a report from Greenpeace South-east Asia and Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

China, the US and India bear the highest economic cost of soaring pollution, at an estimated US$900 billion, US$600 billion and US$150 billion a year, respectively.

Air pollution continues to harm billions of people on a daily basis, despite efforts by some countries and companies to push for greater use of renewable energy and cleaner fuels.

Burning coal, oil and gas causes health issues, potentially leading to 4.5 million premature deaths around the world each year, with 40,000 children dying before their fifth birthday due to the exposure to fine-dust particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers, Greenpeace said.

"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," said Mr Minwoo Son, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.

"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."

Phasing out existing coal, oil and gas infrastructure and transitioning to renewable energy is required to avoid the worst impact of climate change, Greenpeace said.

In the absence of efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the earth could warm by 2 deg C by 2050, cutting global GDP by 2.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent, Oxford Economics said in a November report.