Global Health Benefits Of Reaching Climate, Environment Targets Could Be US$ 54.1 Trillion – Says UN Report

The global health benefits of reducing air pollution and reaching the climate targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement could be as “high as $54.1 trillion dollars, at a cost of only $22.1 trillion,” according a new UN Environment analysis, to be released in full tomorrow.

Key findings from the sixth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6) were summarized in a conference paper Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production [pdf] presented to the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) this week in Nairobi, Kenya (HPW, Health & Environment, 11 March 2019).

The new data illustrates how the health benefits of addressing the drivers of air pollution and climate change far outweigh the costs, the UN Environment reports say.

Previous reports by the World Health Organization have estimated that nearly 13 million people a year annually die from environmentally-related health risks, including 7 million people a year from air pollution alone.

“The time to change is now,” said the “Innovative solutions” report by UN Environment’s Executive Director to the UNEA assembly of ministers of health and other environmental decision-makers.

“Pollution-related costs,” it says, “have been estimated at $4.6 trillion annually. The global health benefits of reducing air pollution and achieving the 2°C target of the Paris Agreement could be as high as $54.1 trillion dollars, at a global cost of only $22.1 trillion.”

Further, it says that “without rapid decarbonization,” a warming climate could also lead to “the spread of zoonoses and infectious diseases.”

It concludes that “12 years remain to fundamentally shift global economic systems towards more sustainable trajectories to avoid catastrophic climate change and loss of biodiversity and ecosystems,” and that “[s]uch exponential transformation can only be achieved if catalysed and underpinned by innovation at all levels.”

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons.

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