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More global aid goes to fossil fuel projects than tackling dirty air – study | Air

Governments around the world gave 20% more in overseas aid funding to fossil fuel projects in 2019 and 2020 than to programmes to cut the air pollution they cause.

Dirty air is the world’s biggest environmental killer, responsible for at least 4m early deaths a year. But just 1% of global development aid is used to tackle this crisis, according to an analysis from the Clean Air Fund (CAF).

Air pollution kills more people than HIV/Aids, malaria, and tuberculosis combined, but such health issues receive vastly more funding, the report found. When compared in terms of years of life lost, HIV/Aids projects received 34 times more funding, while malnutrition programmes received seven times more. Increasing funding to similar levels to tackle air pollution would save many lives, experts said.

Funding for air quality projects is also heavily skewed towards middle-income Asian countries, with African and Latin American nations receiving just 15% of the total, despite having many heavily polluted cities. For example, Mongolia, which had an estimated 2,260 deaths related to air pollution in 2019, received $437m (£316m) from 2015-2020, while Nigeria, which had 70,150 early deaths because of air pollution received just $250,000.

Jane Burston, at CAF described the situation as “crazy and shocking”, adding: “When you see the incredibly and chronically low levels of funding on the one hand, and the chronically high levels of public health impacts on the other, it becomes quite obvious that more funding is needed.

“Air pollution is a massive health crisis, but a lot of the projects that would reduce pollution also help limit climate change, because they’re about reducing fossil fuel burning. There can be massive wins for equity too, because the poorest communities are often the most affected by air pollution, wherever you are in the world.”

Inger Andersen, the head of the UN Environment Programme (Unep), said air quality funding did not match the scale of the problem: “Our relentless burning of fossil fuels pollutes our air, costing the global economy billions of dollars each year. Ending the financing of fossil-fuel development and instead investing in growing clean, carbon-free economies will bring immediate benefits. It will save many lives.”

The CAF report included funding for both projects in which improving air quality was a stated objective, and projects in which air pollution was cut as a benefit of other action such as installing renewable energy or clean transport initiatives, including better urban buses in Peru. Most of the aid funding for fossil fuels was for power plants, including the Medupi coal-powered plant in South Africa.

Almost $6bn in aid was given to air quality programmes from 2015-2020, with 45% going to China, which has cut air pollution by 29% in the last seven years. Mongolia, the Philippines and Pakistan were the next biggest recipients. India, with more than 1m early deaths from air pollution a year, was eighth.


Read More: More global aid goes to fossil fuel projects than tackling dirty air – study | Air

2021-09-06 22:37:00

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