Toxic air: The price of fossil fuels

This report reveals the cost of air pollution from fossil fuels and highlights solutions that can protect our health and benefit our communities. Air pollution generated by burning fossil fuels is attributed to approximately 4.5 million premature deaths worldwide every year, the report shows. Air pollution increases the incidence of chronic and acute illnesses and contributes to millions of hospital visits and billions of work absences due to illness each year. It also damages our economies and the environment. For the first time, Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) have quantified the global cost of air pollution from fossil fuels, finding that it has reached an estimated US$8 billion per day, or 3.3% of the world’s GDP. While coal, oil and vehicle companies continue to push outdated technologies, our health and our communities are paying the price. The economic cost of air pollution reflects pollution concentrations, population size and the availability and cost of healthcare. We found that the China Mainland, the United States and India bear the highest costs from fossil fuel air pollution worldwide, at an estimated US$900 billion, US$600 billion and US$150 billion per year, respectively. Air pollution is a major health threat to children, particularly in low income countries. Worldwide an estimated 40,000 children die before their fifth birthday because of exposure to PM2.5 pollution. We found that air pollution from fossil fuel-related PM2.5 is attributed to an estimated 2 million preterm births each year.