Cutting global air pollution could save a million lives a year by 2050, WHO says


The World Health Organization says curbing climate change will have huge benefits for people’s health worldwide.


The United Nations agency said Wednesday that meeting the 2015 Paris accord’s goals would significantly cut global air pollution, saving a million lives each year by 2050.

In a report released at the COP24 climate summit in Katowice, Poland, WHO said exposure to air pollution causes seven million deaths worldwide every year. 

The countries that signed on to the Paris accord, including Canada, committed to a goal of limiting the average global temperature rise to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.

Fossil fuels that produce air pollution, such as coal, gasoline and wood, are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global warming. 

In its report, WHO also said the savings on health expenditure will far outweigh the cost of tackling global warming.

“The evidence is clear that climate change is already having a serious impact on human lives and health,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general, in a news release on Wednesday. 

“It threatens the basic elements we all need for good health — clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply and safe shelter — and will undermine decades of progress in global health. We can’t afford to delay action any further.”