Cars Biggest Threat to Climate Change?

Apr 10th, 2014 | By | Category: Development and Climate Change, Green House Gas Emissions, Health and Climate Change, International Agencies, News

A comprehensive UN study whose results are yet to be disclosed warn that vehicles have emerged as the biggest source of threat to global climate change. Citing a “leaked” draft of the report, Bloomberg said the huge demand of consumer goods from countries like China, Brazil and India – which have to be delivered by trucks, trains, ship or planes – have contributed to the rising “new” pollution due to carbon emissions from these vehicles.

Although the power industry, particularly with the use of coal and diesel in power plants is a significant contributor of toxic emissions, the exhaust from cars and other vehicles have more than doubled since 1970, expanding at a rate faster than any other energy end-use sector, the report noted.

An earlier study from the World Health Organization (WHO) also underscored that the single biggest environmental health risk is air pollution, which is blamed for an estimated seven million deaths every year since 2012.  According to the WHO study, outdoor pollution coming from vehicle exhaust due to traffic, plus indoor pollution from wood and coal stoves, cause more deaths than smoking, vehicular accidents and diabetes all put together.

Close to four million deaths due to stroke and heart disease are linked to air pollution, with majority of deaths occurring in Asia, the WHO report said. Worse, Southeast Asia has been singled out as “the most polluted region in the world, with 3.3 million deaths linked to air pollution and 2.6 million deaths linked to outdoor air pollution,” an official confirmed. In rich countries like the US, air pollution from car emissions is being linked to hundreds of thousands of deaths every year.

No question, the worsening air pollution in Metro Manila can be largely attributed to the traffic situation. Traffic is also causing economic losses that could reach as much as P6 billion per day by 2030, according to a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Unfortunately, aside from the pollution generated by the traffic gridlocks in Metro Manila and other urban areas, we also get “imported” Chinese pollution – what with the deadly smog and other toxic fumes coming from factories and coal power plants located across many cities in China. In fact, the World Bank has pinpointed 16 cities in China as among the 20 most polluted cities in the world.

No wonder a lot of expats are refusing to work in China because of the health risks involved. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce for businesses in Beijing, about 48 percent of survey respondents said they have great difficulty recruiting senior executives, while those that are already working in China are reluctant to stay due to the worsening air pollution. The toxic air quality has also made it more expensive for businesses because of frequent absences due to lung-related illness, not to mention the fact that several air filters covering the entire office space have to be installed.

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