New Delhi: At least 153 million premature deaths linked to air pollution could be avoided across major urban areas worldwide this century if governments across the world speed up their plans to cut fossil fuel emissions, said a new study released on Monday.

Kolkata and Delhi lead the list of cities that would benefit the most from accelerated emission cuts, with 8.8 million projected lives saved. In India, according to the study, a total of 25.72 million premature deaths can be avoided across 18 cities, which includes Patna, Mumbai, Lucknow, Agra, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Bengaluru, Chennai and others.

It stressed that premature deaths would decline in cities on every inhabited continent with the greatest gains in saved lives occurring in Asia and Africa. The study by US-based Duke University was published in the journal, Nature Climate Change, on Monday.

It claimed to be the first one to project the number of lives that could be saved, city by city, in 154 of the world’s largest urban areas if nations agree to reduce emissions and limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius in the near future rather than postponing the biggest emissions cuts until later, as some governments have proposed.

“Kolkata and Delhi, India, lead the list of cities benefitting from accelerated emissions cuts with up to 4.4 million projected saved lives and up to 4 million projected saved lives, respectively. Thirteen other Asian or African cities could each avoid more than 1 million premature deaths and around 80 additional cities could each avoid at least 100,000 deaths," the study said.

Nearly 50 urban areas in other continents could see gains in numbers of saved lives, with six cities—Moscow, Mexico City, Sao Paolo, Los Angeles, Puebla and New York—each potentially avoiding between 320,000 and 120,000 premature deaths. In December 2015, under the Paris Agreement, the world agreed to limit rise in global temperature well below 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times and make efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

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