Meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement could save a million lives a year worldwide by 2050 through reductions in air pollution alone, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The report, launched at this week’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24), highlights the health impacts of climate change and describes how more than 90 per cent of the world’s urban population breathes air containing levels of outdoor air pollutants that exceed WHO’s guidelines.
The authors highlight how latest estimates suggest the value of health gains from climate action would be approximately double the cost of mitigation policies.
“The true cost of climate change is felt in our hospitals and in our lungs. The health burden of polluting energy sources is now so high, that moving to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems effectively pays for itself,” says Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “When health is taken into account, climate change mitigation is an opportunity, not a cost.”
The report also provides recommendations on how to maximise the health benefits of tackling climate change and how to avoid the worst health impacts of the global challenge.