Air pollution continues to harm human health and our environment. One of the main findings of the EEA’s (European Environment Agency) The European environment — state and outlook 2010 report (EEA, 2010) was that, despite past reductions in emissions, air quality needs to further improve. Concentrations of certain air pollutants still pose a threat to human health. In 2005, the European Union’s Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) programme estimated that the cost to human health and the environment from emissions of regional air pollutants across all sectors of the EU-25 economy equalled EUR 280–794 billion in the year 2000.
ir pollution from industry costs Britain £3.4bn-£9.5bn a year in health and environmental damage, according to the European environment agency (EEA). When CO2 costs are included, the figure rises to £9.5bn-£15.5bn– more than the government spends a year on the arts, environment, transport and security and intelligence combined.
In a first attempt to link financial costs to emissions from large power stations, refineries, waste plants and factories, the Copenhagen-based agency calculates that air pollution from industry cost Europe £86.1bn-£145.5bn in 2009. It has used government figures and has arrived at the costs by factoring in population densities, health costs, building damage and crop losses from pollutants such as low-level ozone.
Emissions from power plants contributed the largest share of the damage costs, estimated at €66–112 billion (US$87–148 billion). Other significant contributions to the overall damage costs came from production processes (€23–28 billion) and manufacturing combustion (€8–21 billion). Sectors excluded from the EEA analysis include transport, households and most agricultural activities—if these were included the cost of pollution would be even higher.
Air pollution from the 10,000 largest polluting facilities in Europe cost citizens between €102–169 billion (US$135–224 billion) in 2009, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) which analyzed the costs of harm to health and the environment caused by air pollution. Half of the total damage cost (between €51–85 billion) was caused by just 191 facilities.
Germany, with its large industrial facilities and large power plants, is the biggest polluter Europewide – resulting in a cost of €21.5bn – €33.8bn of the overall €100-€169bn bill. Five of the top 10 emitters are German.
Carbon dioxide emissions contribute the most to the overall damage costs, approximately €63 billion (US$83 billion) in 2009 (37% of the €169-billion figure). Air pollutants, which contribute to acid rain and can cause respiratory problems—sulfur dioxide (SO2), ammonia (NH3), particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen oxides (NOx)—were found to cause €38-105 billion (US$50–139 billion) of damage a year.
The damage cost resulting from emitting one kg of organic micro-pollutants (e.g. dioxins and furans) is significantly higher than the damage cost from releasing one kg of CO2. The enormously larger amount of CO2 emitted (around a trillion times greater) means, however, that CO2 emissions contribute the most to total damage costs (followed by regional air pollutants, heavy metals and organic micro-pollutants).
Of the industrial sectors included in the pollutant register, emissions from power generation contribute the largest share of the total damage costs (estimated as at least €66–112 billion). Excluding CO2, the estimated damage costs from this sector are €26–71 billion (US$34–94 billion).
Pollution in China costs 2-4% of GDP
Various studies have found that air and water pollution cost China’s economy 2 to 4% of GDP. In 2011, with a 7 trillion economy it would cost China $140 to 280 billion.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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