India Lost INR 10.7 lakh crore to Air Pollution: Report

Globally, fossil fuel-driven air pollution has caused a loss of $2.9 trillion, according to a Greenpeace report

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A whopping $2.9 trillion or 3.3 per cent of the world’s GDP is lost annually due to air pollution, shows a report Toxic Air: The Price of Fossil Fuels, released by environmental NGO Greenpeace Southeast Asia in collaboration with Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).


China, USA and India are the most affected countries bearing maximum economic losses. China Mainland has borne the highest loss of $900 billion, followed by the United States and India at $600 billion and $150 billion, respectively.

Impact on health and loss of life due to air pollution mainly lead to economic losses. Around 4.5 million people die prematurely each year because of burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. Death related to air pollution is more than three times caused by global road accidents, shows the report.

Source: Greenpeace report, Toxic Air: The Price of Fossil Fuels.

“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 at Greenpeace East Asia in the report.

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Dire Impact of Air Pollution in India

India bears an estimated loss of $150 billion dollar or 5.4 per cent of the country’s GDP due to air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels.

The report suggests an estimated one million deaths and approximately 9.8 lakh preterm births each year. That’s not all. Each year around 12.8 lakh 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,” the report states.

In the Union Budget 2020, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman alloted INR 4,400 crore to National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) aimed at tackling rising air pollution.

However, experts say that not enough is being done to curb air pollution. “The country spends around 1.28 per cent of the GDP on health while air pollution from burning fossil fuels costs an estimated 5.4 per cent of India’s GDP,” stated Avinash Chanchal, Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace India in the press note. “This year the central government allocated only INR 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.”

Source: Greenpeace report, Toxic Air: The Price of Fossil Fuels​​​​​​​.

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Antidote for Air Pollution

To fight air pollution, the report suggests a transition to effective public transportation and new age mobility solutions. It also emphasizes on shift to clean energy for power supply as the closure of coal-fired power plants can yield health benefits that exceed the value of electricity generated.

“Clean transport and renewable energy not only bring significant reductions in toxic pollutants such as PM 2.5, NO2 and ozone, but also help to keep climate change-causing greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere,” said the report. “Reducing air pollution is feasible, achievable and cost effective.”

The research used published global datasets on the surface level concentrations of PM 2.5, ozone and NO2 to perform a health impact assessment and subsequent cost calculation for the year 2018.

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