Air pollution has been declared the world’s fourth-largest threat to human health, killing nearly 6.5 million per year.
On Monday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that around three million of the 6.5 million deaths are currently attributed to outdoor air pollution and 3.5 million are caused by household air pollution.
The report estimated that the premature deaths from poor air quality will continue to increase till 2040 unless energy policies are changed.
Outdoor air pollution is expected to claim the lives of 4.5 million in 2040 while premature deaths caused by household air pollution should fall to 2.9 million in the same year.
The Paris-based organization said in a special report on energy and air pollution that unregulated or inefficient production and use of energy is the main reason behind the release of the harmful pollutants that cause lung cancer, strokes and heart disease over the long run. The pollutants can also trigger symptoms including heart attacks.
The IEA also said that the used and planned energy policies will not be effective even though the global emissions are predicted to decrease overall to 2040.
The agency said premature deaths from poor air quality outdoors and indoors could decline to 2.8 million and to 1.3 million, respectively, if total energy investment rose by 7 percent, or $4.7 trillion, to 2040.
“This is completely peanuts. With a seven percent increase you can save over three million lives,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol told journalists in London.
The IEA also called for adopting a package of measures for the energy sector, including fitting coal-fired power plants with scrubbers, further use of renewable energy, increased energy efficiency, and emissions control.