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Great Lakes Article:

Cut Pollution, Save Billions Report Says

By GRAEME SMITH
Article courtesy of Globe and Mail
Thursday, 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 were exceeded.

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, global implications."

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.

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