New report: Tackling air pollution means climate, health and economic gains

As the environmental crisis spirals, health systems buckle and financial outlooks appear bleak, can air pollution solutions provide much-needed good news?

A new report by the Clean Air Fund, focused on the potential gains of improving air quality in four African cities, makes an overwhelming case for global action on air pollution. 

‘From Pollution To Solution In Africa’s Cities’ looks at Johannesburg, South Africa, the Egyptian capital of Cairo, Nigeria’s largest sprawl, Lagos, and Accra, Ghana, and identifies the toll high levels of air pollution have on both people and place. This includes premature deaths and monetary cost, with Lagos suffering worst of all the locations, at 24,000 early fatalities per year and a projected annual loss of $7.25bn of nothing changes by 2040. 

An extensive breakdown of specific factors impacting each city, along with recommendations and potential solutions that could help significantly bring down air pollution, with some strong statistics showing the end result. Specifically, 125,000 lives saved across all four metropolitan areas, $20bn in unnecessary expenditure cut per annum, and a 20% drop in greenhouse gas emissions within the next 20 years. 

‘The impact of air pollution affects us all, but not equally. With over 1 million deaths caused by polluted air in Africa in just 2019, our continent’s great cities are at the frontlines of this often-overlooked health, economic and environmental crisis, said Mohammed Adjei Sowah, former Mayor of Accra. ‘To make the case for investing in fixing air pollution to their constituents, decision makers need credible and quality information like what this report presents.’

Africa is currently home to some of the fastest growing cities on the planet, and 65% of the continent’s population will live in urban areas by 2060. Air pollution is already costing 1.1m lives across the land mass each year, making it the second biggest cause of death after HIV/AIDS. 

As such, it’s understandable that this extensive research is now going into air pollution mitigation projects for the region. However, due to the transboundary nature of ambient pollution, these proposals have far-reaching consequences across the planet. Meanwhile, although cities in Europe and North America, for example, do not face this problem to the same extent, air pollution impacts economics, public health and climate across wherever it is found, only the scale of effect and specific symptoms are relative to location. 

Image: Clean Air Fund


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