New Greenpeace data reveals the grim toll of Sydney’s air pollution

New data compiled by Greenpeace reveals that toxic air pollution is continuing to kill Australians, including 110 avoidable deaths in the Sydney region alone since the start of this year.

Analysis of IQAir data from a live Cost Estimator also found that air pollution in Sydney cost the city’s economy approximately $3.5bn AUD in 2020 as a result of burdens on the health system and loss of productivity, and led to 1900 avoidable deaths during that year.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter said that the ongoing impact of air pollution underscores the need to shift rapidly to cleaner, safer energy and transport systems.

“Australians are paying the price for our continued reliance on coal, oil and gas with our health. From daily transport smog from our choked roads through to pollution from our ageing, dirty coal-burning power stations, Sydney’s air quality, once the envy of the world, is getting progressively worse,” he said.

“Air pollution from burning fossil fuels increases our likelihood of dying from cancer or stroke, suffering asthma attacks and of experiencing severe COVID-19, and as this data shows, it’s costing us economically as well. Sydney residents deserve better than to choke on dirty air when a rapid shift to clean energy and electric transport could solve our air pollution problem.”

Greenpeace’s data found that in 2020, the estimated global economic cost of PM2.5 air pollution exceeded USD 5 billion in a total of 14 cities included in the analysis, including Sydney and Canberra.

PM2.5 air pollution is derived from a number of sources including transport, coal-burning power stations and wood smoke. Sydney’s air pollution costs were increased by last summer’s devastating  bushfires, which saw PM2.5 levels reaching nearly 400µg/m3 in parts of Sydney, classed as ‘hazardous’ by the World Health Organisation.

This latest air pollution data from Greenpeace follows the release of the Coal Impacts index last week quantifying the impact of Australia’s fleet of coal-burning power stations, which rank amongst some of the oldest and most polluting in the world.

For more information please contact Fiona Ivits on 0487 003 872 or [email protected]