Environment: Pollution curbs could save 8 million

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The Independent Online
A global effort to cut air pollution by reducing the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels could prevent eight million deaths worldwide over the first 20 years of the next century, scientists say.

The Working Group on Public Health and Fossil Fuel Combustion, an interdisciplinary body funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency, compared two future scenarios to assess the likely effects of greenhouse gas emissions on global health. In one, dubbed "Business-as-Usual", they assumed trends in energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions would continue unchanged. In the other, they assumed European Union agreed targets for a 15 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions for developed countries below their 1990 level by 2010 would be met. Similar targets for developing countries require them to cut their emissions by 10 per cent below what they would otherwise be in 2010.

The group say in the Lancet that 700,000 avoidable deaths will occur annually by 2020 as a result of exposure to additional particulate matter pollution under the Business-as-Usual forecast compared with the EU-backed climate policy scenario.