In 2020, over 3,30,000 people died in India due to exposure to particulate matter from fossil fuel combustion: Lancet

Source: The post is based on the articleIn 2020, over 3,30,000 people died in India due to exposure to particulate matter from fossil fuel combustion: Lancetpublished in The Hindu on 25th October 2022

What is the News?

A report has been released titled “The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change: health at the mercy of fossil fuels”.

About the Lancet report on Health and Climate Change

The report is published annually. The report represents the work of 99 experts from 51 institutions, including the World Health Organization(WHO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and is led by University College London. 

The report tracks 43 indicators across five key domains: a) Climate change impacts, exposures and vulnerability; b) Adaptation, planning, and resilience for health; c) Mitigation actions and health co-benefits; d) Economics and finance and d) Public and political engagement.

Note: This report comes ahead of this year’s United Nations climate change conference (COP27), to be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

What are the key findings of the report?

Impact of rising temperature and extreme Heat: Between 2012-2021, infants under one year old experienced a higher number of heatwave days compared to 1985–2005.

– Heat-related deaths increased 68% globally between 2017-21, reaching 3.1 lakh deaths per year. The death toll was significantly increased by the Covid-19 pandemic’s confluence.

– In India, the number of heat-related deaths among those over 65 increased by 55% between 2000-04 and 2017-21.

Fossil Fuel Subsidies: Subsidies to fossil fuel consumption in many countries are causing global problems, including deterioration of air quality, a decline in food output and increased risk of infectious disease linked to higher carbon emissions.

In 2021, 80% of the countries reviewed provided some form of fossil fuel subsidy, totalling $400 billion.

– In 2019, India spent a net $34 billion on fossil fuel subsidies, accounting for 5% of total national health spending. According to the report, over 3.3 lakh people died in India in 2020 as a result of exposure to fossil fuel pollutants.

Impact on the Economy: In 2021, Indians lost 167.2 billion potential labour hours due to heat exposure with income losses equivalent to about 5.4% of the national GDP.

Dengue Transmission: From 1951-1960 to 2012-2021, the number of months suitable for dengue transmission by Aedes Aegypti rose by 1.69%, reaching 5.6 months each year.

What are the recommendations given by the report?

Firstly, improvement in air quality will help in preventing deaths resulting from exposure to fossil fuel-derived particulate matter.

Secondly, develop climate solutions that are proportionate to the scale of the problem. 

Thirdly, the government should invest more resources in environmental protection.

Fourthly, the burning of dirty fuels needs to be minimized as soon as possible to reduce the accompanying health impacts.

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