The European Union has said it is prepared to raise its target for cutting greenhouse gases to 30 percent from 20 percent – but only if there are similar pledges to cut emissions from other countries in the industrialized world. In a report issued on Thursday, health and environment campaigners called on the EU to adopt the more ambitious target anyway, because it will lengthen European lives — and save money.
Representatives from the Health and Environment Alliance, Climate Action Network Europe and WWF, say the higher target could generate additional health savings of 25 million euros each year by 2020, bringing the total annual savings to 76 billion euros.
The groups based the calculation on economic evaluations of how people will live longer and healthier lives by breathing cleaner air, how industry will make savings from reduced loss of working days, and how governments will benefit from reduced costs to health services.
They say the evidence comes from a large number of studies published over the last 20 years that show that sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter from fossil fuel emissions are linked to higher rates of death and respiratory illnesses, including bronchitis and the exacerbation of asthma symptoms, and cardiac problems.