In its Outlook on the Global Agenda, the World Economic Forum immediately states that “the industrialization of the developing world is creating unsustainable pollution levels.” Emissions from large sources such as power plants as well as smaller (but more numerous) sources such as cars and motorcycles combine to create a haze of pollution over developing cities. The costs are mounting.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s report on The Economic Consequences of Outdoor Air Pollution notes that “The most dangerous consequences from outdoor air pollution are related to the number of premature deaths,” which are projected to rise “from approximately 3 million people (annually) in 2010… to 6-9 million annually.” The serious health complications that contribute to these numbers, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, primarily affect “densely populated regions… especially China and India.”
The impact of urban pollution isn’t only measured in human lives; there is an enormous projected economic cost as well. In addition to the strain on healthcare and welfare costs resulting from premature illness and death, the OECD anticipates increasing costs from lost productivity. Beyond human health, rising outdoor pollution will greatly impact the agricultural industry as well, threatening both economic growth and the ability to feed growing populations.
As they follow established western models of economic growth, emerging nations are contributing to an increase in global pollution as post-industrial nations begin attempting to mitigate their environmental impact. But, as the World Economic Forum notes, “developing countries will suffer the most from the weather-related disasters and increased water stress caused by global warming.”
Might there be a way to specifically address the problem of fuel consumption and pollution-causing emissions in these parts of the world?