Report: Air Pollution From Burning Fossil Fuels Cost The Global Economy $3 Trillion In 2018Source: Forbes
Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air have released a new report highlighting both the human and economic cost of pollution from fossil fuels. It found that burning gas, coal and oil leads to three times as many deaths as road traffic accidents around the world while the global economic cost amounted to $2.9 trillion in 2018, or 3.3% of global GDP. An estimated 4.5 million people died in 2018 due to exposure to air pollution while PM2.5 pollution was responsible for 1.8 billion days of work absence, 4 million new cases of child asthma and 2 million preterm births.
Air pollution can impact the economy in various ways with an increased risk of illnesses such as asthma, diabetes or chronic respiratory diseases resulting in a reduced ability to work and lower labor participation. Children suffering increased asthma attacks also suffer more sick days which subsequently impacts learning results at school with healthcare requirements often forcing their guardians to take extra time off work. The report found that disability from chronic diseases cost the global economy $200 billion in 2018, while sick leave and preterm births cost $100 billion and $90 billion respectively.
It is estimated that polluted air costs China $900 billion each year while annual costs for the United States add up to approximately $600 billion. India has some of the most polluted cities on the planet and it is also impacted to the tune of $150 billion. The following infographic shows air pollution costs as a share of GDP in selected countries in 2018 with China suffering the most at 6.6%. Dirty air cost the equivalent of 5.4% of India's GDP the same year while the U.S. was slightly better off but still carried a heavy 3% burden.