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Phasing out fossil fuels could save millions of lives every year

A study by the Max Planck Institute has revealed a shocking statistic: outdoor air pollution from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas kills an estimated 5.1 million people each year. This figure is significantly higher than previously estimated and underscores the devastating impact fossil fuels have on global health.

Air pollution: a major environmental health risk

When considering all sources, air pollution is responsible for a staggering 8.3 million deaths annually, making it one of the world's most significant environmental health risks. However, the researchers found that this number could be drastically reduced by phasing out fossil fuels and replacing them with clean energy sources.

61% reduction in air pollution deaths possible with clean energy transition

By utilizing a new model, the study isolated the harm caused by fossil fuels and evaluated the potential health benefits of transitioning to clean energy. The results were encouraging, indicating a potential 61% decrease in air pollution deaths if fossil fuels were phased out globally.

Fossil fuels are harming our health and the planet

Beyond the direct health consequences, fossil fuels also inflict significant damage on the planet. They are responsible for roughly 90% of global carbon dioxide emissions and more than 75% of all greenhouse gas emissions, driving climate change and its devastating effects.

Phasing out fossil fuels a key focus at COP28

With the detrimental impact of fossil fuels becoming increasingly evident, their future is high on the agenda at COP28, the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference. Delegates from nearly 200 countries will engage in crucial discussions about phasing down or even phasing out fossil fuels entirely.

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Johnny Wood

April 22, 2024

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