Toll of Pollution on Human Well-being Addressed in Canada, China and Europe
UN Photo/Kibae Park/Sipa Press
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The IISD report titled, 'Costs of Pollution in Canada: Measuring the impacts on families, businesses and governments,’ investigates pollution costs related to health and well-being, lost income and increased expenses, and reduced asset values.

At the Sixth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, the World Health Organization/Europe, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and UN Environment, along with representatives from 53 countries and international and non-governmental organizations, committed to prioritize action on environmental risks to health.

The China National Investment and Guaranty Corporation launched the Asian Development Bank-supported Green Financing Platform to promote air pollution-reduction investments in the greater Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

16 June 2017: A report by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) estimates the billions of dollars that pollution costs Canada, while in Europe and Asia, initiatives also drew attention to pollution and its effects on human health. In Europe, the Sixth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health called for the region to reduce the number of deaths from environmental pollution, while in China, a Green Financing Platform (GFP) will promote air pollution-reduction investments in the greater Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH) region.

Pollution costs the average Canadian family US$4,300 a year, with negative impacts on health, forests, crops, and land and water quality, according to the report titled, ‘Costs of Pollution in Canada: Measuring the impacts on families, businesses and governments.’ The IISD publication investigates the costs related to health and well-being, lost income and increased expenses, and reduced asset values. It finds that in 2015, pollution costs totaled at least US$39 billion, with smog alone costing approximately US$36 billion.

The report also investigates the costs of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and their negative impacts on health; heatwaves; and management of contaminated sites, including former mines, factories and gas stations. The publication synthesizes existing studies and explains that more research is needed to fill data gaps regarding costs related to: greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in terms of climate change and its impacts on the economy and the environment; heavy metals in terms of human health; and fertilizers and other nutrient runoff in terms of excessive growth of aquatic plants and algae.

In Canada, pollution costs the average family US$4,300 a year.

In Europe, UN agency heads urged regional leaders to reduce deaths and diseases from pollution in Europe and Central Asia, where approximately 1.4 million people die prematurely each year from polluted environments, according to a UN press release. The call was made during the Sixth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health held in Ostrava, the Czech Republic, from 13-15 June 2017. At the conference, the World Health Organization (WHO)/Europe, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and UN Environment, along with representatives from 53 countries and international and non-governmental organizations, committed to prioritize action on environmental risks to health.

Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary, UNECE, while pointing to the successes of the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, the Protocol on Water and Health and the joint UNECE/WHO Programme on Transport, Health and Environment, said more must be done to ensure clean air and water, smart cities, sustainable transport systems, and to realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 3 (good health and well-being) and SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals).

Also in Asia, the China National Investment and Guaranty Corporation (I&G) launched the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-supported Green Financing Platform (GFP) to promote air pollution-reduction investments in the greater Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH) region. More specifically, the Platform will improve access to financing, particularly for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in polluting sectors, for cleaner production facilities and the implementation of policies and regulations that improve air quality. While approximately 60% of industrial pollution comes from SMEs in the BTH region, many of them lack the experience to tackle pollution and access to finance to switch to cleaner processes.

The ADB approved a US$500 million loan to establish the GFP, which is expected to leverage an additional US$4 billion in domestic commercial financing. The GFP is part of a bigger package of multiyear ADB support to improve air quality in the BTH region. For the period 2016-2020, the ADB will lend the Chinese government around US$500 million per year for strengthening policies and regulatory frameworks, developing financing facilities to bring investment to areas of need, and leapfrogging technologies. These efforts will contribute to achieving SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and SDG 17, among others. [IISD Report on Costs of Pollution in Canada Webpage] [Publication: Costs of Pollution in Canada: Measuring the impacts on families, businesses and governments] [UN Press Release on Pollution in Europe] [ADB Press Release on GFP]

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