Cut Pollution, Save Billions Report
Article courtesy of Globe and Mail
October 4, 2001
Industrialized nations would save money if they reduced
the amount of pollutants they spew into the atmosphere,
a study has found.
An analysis in today's edition of the scientific journal
Nature estimates that Italy could save about $2.9-billion
annually by cutting its greenhouse-gas emissions. Experts
say the same calculation could apply in Canada.
The two-year study of pollutants in Italy considers several
costs rarely considered in the debate over emissions standards,
such as the Kyoto protocol, said Marino Gatto, professor
of ecology at Politecnico di Milano in Italy.
"You have to look at the problem as a whole,"
Dr. Gatto said.
His team of researchers considered the effects of air
pollution on areas including human health, agricultural
crops and livestock, and buildings and property. The price
tag for the negative consequences of pollution, such as
hospital care for asthmatic patients, were weighed against
the costs of cleaner energy.
Compliance with the Kyoto protocol, which calls for a
reduction of greenhouse gases to 6 per cent below 1990
levels by 2010, would require 3.1 per cent more industrial
spending, but reduce other costs by 35 per cent, the study
found. The savings would be greater if the Kyoto requirements
The findings should create an incentive for countries
to clean their emissions, Dr. Gatto said. "Even if
they don't care about other countries, governments should
do something for their own people."
The study, which was partially funded by Italy's energy
companies, considered only costs that could be quantified,
Dr. Gatto said. "We're not even discussing the long-term,
Robert Hornung, climate change program director for the
Pembina Institute in Ottawa, said a similar analysis in
Canada would yield comparable results.
Some aspects of Canada's climate make the economic costs
of air pollution even more important, said Steven Guilbeault,
a climate change activist for Greenpeace Canada in Montreal.
Global warming could reduce the Great Lakes to extremely
low levels, he said, rendering some pumping stations useless.