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India loses billions to air pollution and has highest share of welfare costs

According to a report by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), India had the highest share of welfare costs (loss of income from labour), of about $220 billion in South and South-East Asia from mortality due to air pollution.

Background Information and Highlights of UNEP Report:

UNEP’s report, ‘Towards a pollution-free planet’, was launched during the first Conference of Parties for the Minamata Convention in September 2017.

  • As per the report, if more stringent measures are not adopted, global mortality costs from outdoor air pollution could rise to about $25 trillion by 2060.
  • Across the world, highest welfare cost from mortality due to air pollution is incurred by China – $1 trillion.
  • China is followed by Organisation for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD) countries with a combined cost of $730 billion.
  • In South and South-East Asia, combined total welfare cost from mortality due to air pollution is $380 billion.
  • However, the report has admitted that certain forms of pollution have been reduced due to usage of advanced technologies and management strategies.
  • The report has outlined that approximately 19 million premature deaths are estimated to occur annually due to exploitation of natural resources and its resultant impact on the environment.
  • UNEP has recommended that strong high-level political commitment and engagement of the local government and civil society is required to curb pollution in various forms.
  • High-level political commitment should not just be restricted to Environment Ministry, but is also required from other relevant ministries such as industry, transport, energy, finance and health.

Quick Facts about United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP):

  • Founded in – 1972
  • Headquarters – Nairobi, Kenya
  • Current Executive Director – Erik Solheim
  • Responsibility – to coordinates United Nations’ environmental activities and assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies

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