Report estimates annual cost of air pollution to 36 world economies, including the UK, USA, China and India
Air pollution is costing the worldâ€™s most advanced economies â€“ including the UK, USA, China and India â€“ an estimated $3.5 trillion (Â£2.07 trillion) per year through premature deaths and ill health, according to a report by a global trade organisation.
Published this week (May 21), the report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that around half of the estimated costs are due to road transport, with diesel vehicles producing the most harmful emissions.
Furthermore, the report â€“ â€˜Cost of Air Pollution: Health Impacts of Road Transportâ€™ â€“ argues that traffic exhaust is a growing threat in fast-expanding cities in China and India.
The cost of air pollution to OECDâ€™s 34 members, which includes the UK, is estimated at $1.7 trillion (more than Â£1 trillion), while it claims the cost to China alone â€“ which is not an OECD member â€“ is nearly an additional $1.4 trillion (Â£831 billion). And, it estimates the cost to India â€“ also not an OECD member â€“ is almost $0.5 trillion (Â£296 billion).
This in total represents a cost of $3.5 trillion (Â£2.07 trillion) a year across the worldâ€™s most advanced economies.
Elsewhere, the report estimates that more than 3.5 million people die each year from outdoor air pollution, while from 2005 to 2010, the death rate rose by 4% worldwide, by 5% in China and by 12% in India.
Presenting the report at the International Transport Forumâ€™s 2014 summit in Germany earlier this month, OECD secretary-general Angel GurrÃa said: â€œThe price we pay to drive doesnâ€™t reflect the impact of driving on the environment and on peopleâ€™s health. Tackling air pollution requires collective action.â€
As such, OECD urges against applying preferential tax treatment to diesel fuel and vehicles and also supports tightening emission standards, expanding urban bicycle-sharing and electric car programmes. It also advocates extending road charging schemes to reduce congestion.
Mr GurrÃa added: â€œThere is no environmental justification for taxing diesel less than petrol. Air pollution is destroying our health and the planet. Phasing out tax incentives on diesel would be a step towards reducing the costs to both and in fighting climate change,â€