A new report by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) has revealed the dramatic health costs associated with using fossil fuels, and has called on governments to stop subsidising this industry with public money.
Hidden Price Tags: How ending fossil fuel subsidies would benefit our health looked at the health costs related to air pollution and climate change caused by using fossil fuels, alongside the amount of public money that governments spend to support the industry.
The report notes that, every year, an estimated 6.5 million people around the world will die early due to lung and heart conditions caused by breathing in polluted air. Most of this air pollution comes from the production and use of oil, gas and coal.
An economic comparison found that the societal health costs related to fossil fuels in the G20 countries are over six times higher (2,600 euros) than the amount of public money used to prop up the industry (416 billion euros). The report argues that the society is effectively paying twice – first, to subsidise the fossil fuel industry; and second, in higher healthcare costs.
The report calls on governments to stop supporting an industry that harms health with public money – and to invest this money in national healthcare systems and healthier energy instead. For example, it calculated that, if Poland were to stop paying into the fossil fuel industry, the country could afford to build over 34 new hospitals, and pay the salaries of more than 30,000 doctors and 57,000 teachers each year.
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