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India and China can gain health benefits by tackling climate change

India and China can gain health benefits by tackling climate change

Sentinel Digital Desk

Katowice (Poland): India and China could gain massive health benefits by tackling climate change, the WHO said on Wednesday. For India, the gains could be $3.28-8.4 trillion. And meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement could save about a million lives a year worldwide by 2050 through reductions in air pollution alone. The latest estimates from leading experts also indicate that the value of health gains from climate action would be approximately double the cost of mitigation policies at global level, and the benefit-to-cost ratio is even higher in countries such as China and India.

The World Health Organization (WHO) report was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in this Polish city. It highlights why health considerations are critical to the advancement of climate action and outlines key recommendations for policymakers. The largest gains would be expected in China and India, which would generate even larger net benefits by pursuing the 1.5 degrees Celsius target rather than the two degrees target ($0.27-2.31 trillion in China and $3.28-8.4 trillion in India).

The health gains of meeting the two degrees target would also significantly offset the costs in other regions, such as the European Union (seven-84 per cent) and the US (10-41 per cent). Exposure to air pollution causes seven million deaths worldwide every year and costs an estimated $5.11 trillion in welfare losses globally. In the 15 countries that emit the most greenhouse gas emissions, the health impacts of air pollution are estimated to cost more than four per cent of their GDP. Actions to meet the Paris goals would cost around one per cent of the global GDP.

"The Paris Agreement is potentially the strongest health agreement of this century," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. The same human activities that are destabilizing the earth's climate also contribute directly to poor health. The main driver of climate change is fossil fuel combustion which is also a major contributor to air pollution. "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," WHO Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health Maria Neira said. The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, was an essential step to address climate change. It has the central goal of keeping global average temperature rise this century to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to as close as possible to 1.5 degrees. (IANS)

Also read: Need new approaches to mage climate change risks

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