‘How to curtail premature death through investment in Energy’

By Moses Ebosele
 Sustained investment in Energy could curtail premature deaths associated with air pollution by half in 2040.
   According to a report put together by International Energy Agency (IEA),each  year an estimated 6.5 million deaths are linked to air pollution with the number set to increase significantly in coming decades unless the energy sector takes greater action to curb emissions.
  IEA explained that Air pollution is a problem felt around the world, particularly the poorest in society, adding that no country is immune as a staggering 80% of the population living in cities that monitor pollution levels are breathing air that fails to meet the air quality standards set by the World Health Organization.
 The report projected that premature deaths from outdoor air pollution are expected to rise fromthree million  to 4.5 million by 2040, concentrated mainly in developing Asia.
  Meanwhile, premature deaths from household air pollution is expected to  decline from 3.5 million to three  million over the same period, “although they continue to be heavily linked to poverty and an inability to access modern energy.
  In its first ever in-depth analysis of air quality, the IEA’s World Energy Outlook (WEO) special report highlights the links between energy, air pollution and health.
  It identifies contributions the energy sector can make to curb poor air quality, the fourth-largest threat to human health, after high blood pressure, poor diets, and smoking.
 The report said: “Energy production and use – mostly from unregulated, poorly regulated or inefficient fuel combustion – are the most important man-made sources of key air pollutant emissions: 85% of particulate matter and almost all of the sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides. Millions of tonnes of these pollutants are released into the atmosphere each year, from factories, power plants, cars, trucks, as well as the 2.7 billion people still relying on polluting stoves and fuels for cooking (mainly wood, charcoal and other biomass).
“In the central outlook of the WEO special report, growing attention to this issue and an accelerating energy transition post-COP21 puts global emissions of these pollutants on a slowly declining trend to 2040.
 “However, the problem is far from solved and global changes mask strong regional differences: emissions continue to fall in industrialised countries. In China, recent signs of decline are consolidated. But emissions generally rise in India, Southeast Asia and Africa, as expected growth in energy demand dwarfs policy efforts related to air quality.
IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol, said: “Clean air is a basic human right that most of the world’s population lacks. No country – rich or poor – can claim that the task of tackling air pollution is complete. But governments are far from powerless to act and need to act now. Proven energy policies and technologies can deliver major cuts in air pollution around the world and bring health benefits, provide broader access to energy and improve sustainability.”
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