Written By: Emma Websdale
Reducing the burning of fossil fuels that contributes towards global warming could save up to 3 million premature deaths a year by 2100, a new study suggests.
The report, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, says that the benefits of reducing air pollution by globally reducing fossil fuel consumption could save up to 3 million lives a year by 2100.
The study, led by Jason West of the University of North Carolina, U.S., simulated projections of two different future emission scenarios to forecast the public health challenges posed by fossil fuel emissions. The results found that by aggressively reducing greenhouse gas emissions released from coal-fired power plants, cars and other sources of small pollution particles, 300,000 to 700,000 premature deaths could be avoided annually by the year 2030. By the year 2100, the figure could escalate between 1.4 million and 3 million lives being saved a year.
Factoring in population growth and the ability of air pollution to drift across country borders, results from the study also found that the prevention of every ton of carbon dioxide emissions could save the economy between $50 (£31) and $380 (£237) in associated long-term health costs.
The study highlighted that tackling air pollution could particularly benefit China and East Asia, where the cost of reducing emissions could be 10 to 70% cheaper than the cost of health improvement works.
“Many times, long-term global problems such as climate change are hard to act on, but here we show that reducing greenhouse gas emissions can have near-term, local benefits for health, as well, which might strengthen the arguments for action with governments and citizens,” West said during an interview with Live Science.
The study follows after a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, estimated that improvements in U.S air quality since 1990 have led to a 35% reduction in deaths associated with air pollution.