Toxic air costs Bangladesh $14bn each year: report

  • News Desk,
    Published: 2020-02-13 14:24:12 BdST

Air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels costs Bangladesh an estimated $14 billion annually -- accounting for over 5 percent of the country's GDP, a new report has revealed.

Fossil fuel-related air pollution is also linked to the premature deaths of an estimated 96,000 people each year, according to the study conducted by Greenpeace South Asia and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).

The first-of-its-kind report, ‘Toxic air: The price of fossil fuels’, assesses the impacts on global health and quantifies the economic cost of air pollution from the continued burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

Using data published in 2019, the report shows that air pollution generated by burning fossil fuels is attributed to approximately 4.5 million premature deaths worldwide every year.

"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," the report states.

Children in low income countries are particularly vulnerable to air pollution. An estimated 40,000 children die before their fifth birthday because of exposure to PM2.5 pollution, which is also attributed to an estimated 2 million preterm births, according to the report.

The global cost of air pollution from fossil fuels has reached an estimated US$8 billion per day, or 3.3% of the world’s GDP, the study found.

The economic cost of air pollution reflects pollution concentrations, population size and the availability and cost of healthcare.

China, 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.  

The report calls for a transition to affordable and carbon neutral transport to stem climate change and eliminate health risks.

“Effective public transport systems and good walking and cycling infrastructure enable mobility, reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and correlate with a decrease in rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, mental illness, and respiratory disease.”

One of the most important ways that governments can catalyze sustainable transport is to set a phaseout date for diesel, gas, and petrol cars, and to introduce comprehensible and affordable public transport, with safe walking and cycling infrastructure, according to the report.