Energy investment would ‘cut air pollution deaths’

A study by the International Energy Association (IEA) suggests an increase in investment in the energy sector could cut premature deaths from air pollution in half. 

IEA executive director Fatih Birol

The Paris-based body is an autonomous intergovernmental organisation. The IEA would like to see investment used to curb emissions and other initiatives such as fuel switching.

The IEA argues in its report titled Energy and Air Pollution that the current situation regarding air pollution isn’t “set in stone” and policymakers can take decisive action.


And, the association claims that a 7% increase in energy investment can reduce deaths from outdoor air pollution by 1.7 million worldwide by 2040.

Pollution from households would also fall by 1.6 million, according to the IEA, should the investment be made.

Fatih Birol, IEA executive director, said: “Clean air is a basic human right that most of the world’s population lacks.

“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.”

The IEA's report

The IEA’s report

In the wake of the report, the organisation has unveiled its targets for governments, which are:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 IEA says 6.5 million deaths are linked to air pollution, and the numbers are set to rise in the coming decades, unless the energy sector takes more action.

Premature deaths from outdoor pollution are projected worldwide to rise from three million today to 4.5 million by 2040.

The World Energy Outlook Special Report on Energy and Air Pollution is available for free download at the IEA bookshop.

To view the presentation given by the IEA Executive Director at the launch, please click here‌.



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