India’s capital New Delhi was most affected in terms of premature deaths caused by air pollution in 2020, according to a report by Greenpeace Southeast Asia
KUALA LUMPUR – Serious pollution caused about 160,000 premature deaths in the world’s five most populous cities last year, although air quality improved in some places due to coronavirus blockages, an environmental group said on Thursday.
Most affected was New Delhi, the most polluted capital on Earth, where about 54,000 deaths are estimated to have occurred due to dangerous airborne particles PM2.5, according to a report from Southeast Asia by Greenpeace.
In Tokyo, the figure was 40,000 with the rest scattered in Shanghai, Sao Paulo and Mexico City, according to the report, which looked at the impact of microscopic PM2.5 matter produced by burning fossil fuels.
“When governments choose coal, oil and gas over clean energy, it is our health that pays the price,” said Avinash Chanchal, climate activist at Greenpeace India.
PM2.5 particles are considered to be the most harmful to health. They damage the heart and lungs and increase the chances of severe asthma attacks.
Several studies have linked PM2.5 exposure to a higher risk of death from Covid-19.
The report used an online tool that assesses the impacts of PM 2.5 by taking air quality data from the IQAir monitoring site and combining them with scientific risk models, as well as population and health data.
The tool is a collaboration between Greenpeace, IQAir and the Center for Energy and Clean Air Research.
Despite the high death toll, worldwide coronavirus blockades – which took traffic from roads and shut down polluting industries – temporarily cleared the skies over major cities.
Delhi, for example, underwent a dramatic transformation over a period of last year when curbs were laid, with residents rejoicing in the blue sky and fresh air.
Scientists say massive drops in some pollutants due to blockages are sure to have prevented deaths.
However, Greenpeace urged governments to place renewable energy investments at the heart of plans to recover from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
“To really clean up our air, governments need to stop building new coal plants, retire existing coal plants and invest in clean energy production, such as wind and solar,” said the pollution scientist. of the Aidan Farrow group.
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