Air Clean Up

  • Road traffic accounts for around half of air pollution

Air pollution cost is in the trillions

May 22 2014 Comments 0

Air pollution is costing the largest economies in the world trillions of pounds, with road transport pollution being one of the biggest culprits, according to new research. A study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found that economies around the world are having to pay out large sums to cover the cost of poor air quality.

According to the study, China and India - both of which are OECD members - are so affected by air pollution that it is costing them $3.5 trillion (£2.1 trillion). More advanced economies, such as the majority of those within Europe, have a lower payout to deal with air pollution at $1.7 trillion. 

This difference in cost between advanced economies and China and India could possibly be due to technologies and regulations that have already been put in place to combat emissions and reduce air pollution. In contrast, poorer economies are often still largely reliant upon coal for the production of energy.

Accounting for an estimated 50 per cent of air pollution costs, road transport is the biggest factor in poor air quality, according to the research. Of the 24 EU countries that were included in the study, road transport made up half of the pollution costs for all of them; signalling that more needs to be done to curb exhaust emissions.

Angel Gurria, the OECD's secretary-general, presented the report at the International Transport Forum 2014 in Leipzig Germany. He said: “The price we pay to drive doesn’t reflect the impact of driving on the environment and on people’s health. Tackling air pollution requires collective action." 

But it isn't just the economic cost of air pollution that remains a problem; low air quality has been linked to a number of health issues, including respiratory diseases, heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. Over 3.5 million people across the world die from outdoor air pollution-related illnesses. The number of deaths increased between the years 2005 and 2010 by four per cent and could continue to rise.

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