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IEA Report: The air pollution will get worse without clean energy investment

IEA ”Energy and Air Pollution 2016 – World Energy Outlook Special Report” in 2016

On June 27th 2016, the IEA (International Energy Agency) published new report “Energy and Air Pollution 2016 – World Energy Outlook Special Report”. In this report, the IEA clarified the forecast that the air pollution situation will worsen for decades to come unless every nation invests trillions of dollars in emission control for contaminants and clean energy use. According to the latest estimate released by WHO, each year an approximately 6.5 million premature deaths globally are attributed to poor air quality annually. However, the reports also claimed that a 7% increase in energy investment can reduce deaths from outdoor air pollution by 1.7 million worldwide by 2040. In relation to this, the IEA suggests the adoption of pragmatic and achievable scenarios.
On top of that, based on the new data for pollutant emissions in 2015 and projections to 2040, this special report provides a global outlook for energy and air pollution as well as detailed profiles of key countries and regions, including the United States, Mexico, China, India, the EU, Southeast Asia and Africa.

Clean Air – a basic human right-

Many countries are currently suffering from air pollution and have bleak prospects. Under such circumstances, our fundamental human right to clean air was trampled on. The scale of the public health crisis caused by air pollution and the importance for an overhaul of the energy sector to its resolution are the reasons why the IEA is focusing on this critical topic and completed this report.

The IEA Strategy for Cleaner Air Scenario

Dr. Fatih Birol Chief Economist Director of the IEA stated, “We need to revise our approach to energy development so that communities are not forced to sacrifice clean air in return for economic growth.” “No country – rich or poor – can claim that the task of tackling air pollution is complete. But governments are far from powerless to act and need to act now. Proven energy policies and technologies can deliver major cuts in air pollution around the world and bring health benefits, provide broader access to energy and improve sustainability.”
Emissions controls and fuel switching are crucial in the power sector, as well as increasing energy efficiency in industry and emissions standards that are strictly enforced for road transport.

Aligned with its energy policy strategy for cleaner air, the WEO special report highlights three key areas for government action:

1. Setting an ambitious long-term air quality goal, to which all stakeholders can subscribe and against which the efficacy of the various pollution mitigation options can be assessed.
2. Putting in place a package of clean air policies for the energy sector to achieve the long-term goal, drawing on a cost-effective mix of direct emissions controls, regulation and other measures, giving due weight to the co-benefits for other energy policy objectives.
3. Ensuring effective monitoring, enforcement, evaluation and communication: keeping a strategy on course requires reliable data, a continuous focus on compliance and on policy improvement, and timely and transparent public information.

The dangers of Coal-fired thermal power

This report reconfirmed the fact that both existing and proposal coal-fired power generations have some significant drawbacks including greenhouse gas emissions, generation of millions of tons of waste, and emission of harmful substances was reconfirmed. Therefore the IEA has requested governments to improve their harmful plants as quickly as possible. The report also notes that cleaner coal technologies can be deployed to reduce the emissions of these pollutants from coal use. However, it remains the biggest contributor of high carbon dioxide emissions. Dr. Stephan Singer, Director of Global Energy Policy for WWF (World Wildlife Fund) International said“Coal and oil cannot be made ‘clean’. Even if conventional and deadly pollutants are reduced, they still emit CO2, the largest offender for a safe climate system.” He also said “We need to phase out coal as soon as possible in the next 20 years, and move to a fully renewable energy-based energy system globally.”

It is important the world to phase out the coal.


IEA – World Energy Outlook Special Report, Executive Summary, 27 June 2016.
PESS RELEASE: Small increase in energy investment could cut premature deaths from air pollution in half by 2040, says new IEA report, 27 June 2016.

Related info.

Environmental Justice Australia – ‘International Energy Agency’s Air Pollution report acknowledges role of coal in air pollution deaths’, 27 June 2016.
WWF – ‘WWF responds to new IEA report on energy and air pollution’, 27 June 2016
Bloomberg:大気汚染による死者、数百万人削減には数兆ドルの投資必要-IEA(2016/6/27)(in Japanese)