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The study published by Nature says that actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions often also simultaneously eliminate other air pollutants, improving air quality and having a beneficial impact on human health. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)
The study published by Nature says that actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions often also simultaneously eliminate other air pollutants, improving air quality and having a beneficial impact on human health. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
(Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

Reducing greenhouse emissions linked to health benefits

The study, published in Nature, estimates that reduced greenhouse gas emissions will help avoid 500,000 premature deaths by 2030

New Delhi: A new study has found that reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will not just reduce global warming, but will also have significant beneficial spin-offs on human health and potentially help save millions of lives by the turn of the next century.

The study, published in the online version of the journal Nature on 22 September, estimated that reduced greenhouse gas emissions will help avoid 500,000 premature deaths by 2030, 1.3 million by 2050 and 2.2 million by 2100. These deaths will be caused by increasing particulate matter and ozone in the atmosphere if action is not taken to reduce harmful gas emissions.

The report comes at a time when climate change sceptics have said global warming is not taking place at the rapid pace at which it was previously thought to be and that institutions like the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) are trying to spread a scare by claiming climate change will have a drastic impact on human lives.

The IPCC, a scientific body under the UN, is due to release its own report on climate change on 27 September. The report is likely to play a role in shaping the course of international negotiations on climate change.

The study published by Nature says that actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions often also simultaneously eliminate other air pollutants, improving air quality and having a beneficial impact on human health.

China will be the biggest beneficiary of reducing emissions by 2030 “as it has a large population and severe energy-related air pollution", the study says.

For South Asia, including India, few benefits are seen accruing as early as 2030, but “co-benefits are substantial in this region in 2050 and 2100 as energy shifts away from fossil fuels and populations grow," the study says.

The study, authored by six experts including Jason West, an assistant professor at the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at University of North Carolina, arrived at the findings by scrutinizing the relationships between chronic mortality and exposure to fine particulate matter and ozone.

“The reduction in the use of fossil fuels (like coal and diesel) will reduce greenhouse gases as well as particulate pollution. The reduction in greenhouse gases will reduce global warming while the reduction in particulate pollution will reduce premature deaths due to air pollution. For India, reduction in air pollution should be a priority in the short term and the reduction in the use of fossil fuels should be the long term goal," said J. Srinivasan, chairman, Divecha Centre for Climate Change based in Bangalore.

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