Earlier this summer, the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago released its latest report. This detailed the state of air pollution and its impacts on life expectancy across the world in 2020. The results were sobering.

Despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic slowdowns, in which many places recorded brief periods of cleaner air, global levels of particulate pollution (PM2.5) – the most harmful type of pollution for human health – in 2020 remained largely the same as the previous year. According to this latest AQLI data, we are losing more than two years off of the average human life expectancy across the world due to particulate pollution. This loss to the length of human life is more than the loss due to road injuries, HIV/AIDS, malaria and war combined.

Meanwhile, our investment in tackling air pollution lags far behind the scale of the problem. According to a report by the Clean Air Fund, for example, globally philanthropies invest just $40 million annually. This is in sharp contrast to HIV/AIDS which, after successful efforts instituted over decades, now has a smaller impact on global life expectancy, but still 16 times greater financial support than air pollution. In terms of official international development assistance from governments and international organizations, the chasm is even greater; issues such as HIV/AIDs receive 225 times more funding support than outdoor air pollution ($6.5 billion versus $28.9 million)…
Areas of Focus: Environment
Definition
Environment
Producing and using energy damages people’s health and the environment. EPIC research is quantifying the social costs of energy choices and uncovering policies that help protect health while facilitating growth.
Air Pollution
Definition
Air Pollution
Air pollution from fossil fuel combustion poses a grave threat to human health worldwide. EPIC research is using real-world data to calculate the effects of air pollution on human health...
AQLI
Definition
AQLI
Particulate air pollution is one of the most serious risks to human health globally. To help communicate those risks, the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) converts particulate air pollution into...