Reducing carbon emissions will save 153 million lives

A study by Duke University says that if governments take timely action millions of deaths related to air pollution will be reduced.

Reducing carbon emissions will save 153 million lives

Leer en español: Reducir las emisiones de carbón salvará 153 millones de vidas
Recent research had warned that by 2030 about 60,000 people would die because of climate change and that by 2100 there would be 260,000 deaths. However, Duke University says that if governments take timely and rapid action, it could save 153 million lives due to air pollution before the end of this century.

The study of the renowned American university analyzed the situation of the 154 most populated urban areas in the world and found that if each country reduces carbon emissions and limits the increase in the temperature of the planet to 1.5 degrees Celsius, for the immediate future (instead of the big emissions cuts for the long term) it will save millions of lives.

The researchers performed computer simulations of carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants in 3 different future scenarios. In the first, a panorama is taken in which governments take accelerated measures to reduce CO2 to the point of absorbing the same number of particles released. In the second one, a low increase in the emission of particles was simulated in the short term and a limitation of global warming to 2ºC by the end of the century. And in the third one, a production of CO2 was studied limiting the heating to 1.5ºC.

The researchers calculated the impacts on human health in each of these scenarios, focusing on the big cities and the harmful effects on health based on available information on deaths related to contamination.

The study shows that the countries that will benefit most and where the greatest number of human lives will be saved are located in Africa and Asia. Calcutta and New Delhi are the cities where more people will be benefited by a possible reduction, since they would save 4.4 and 4 million lives respectively. According to the study, "other 13 African and Asian cities would save 1 million premature deaths, in addition to other 80 cities that will save at least 100,000 deaths each."

In Latin America, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Puebla will also have great benefits, since the University of Duke indicates that each of these cities can save between 320 thousand and 120 thousand deaths from diseases associated with air pollution.

However, according to the research, if lukewarm measures that do not produce rapid changes and only seek changes in the future are taken, the results will be scarce. Drew Schindell, Professor of Earth Sciences at Duke University, explained that "low-priced measures only look at how much it will cost to transform the energy sector, ignoring the cost of more than 150 million lives, or the fact that that decreasing emissions in the short term can reduce long-term climate risk".

The expert explained that long-term measures would be a very risky strategy, such as "buy something on credit and assume that at some point you will have enough money to pay off the debt."

Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Translated from "Reducir las emisiones de carbón salvará 153 millones de vidas"

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