Unregulated economic growth could lead to irreversible environmental destruction

Unchecked economic ambition could result in irreversible environmental destruction and disastrous economic and health consequences, according to a new landmark report issued by a group of world-leading health and environmental experts, including two Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health professors.

The report, Environmental Health in Emerging Markets, was launched July 5, 2017 at the Emerging Markets Symposium 2017. The symposium was an academic initiative of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford and was timed to coincide with the start of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany.

The report authors challenged political and business leaders to alter the perception that environmental initiatives discourage economic growth and to invest in low-carbon and health-friendly economies.

Ana Langer
, professor of the practice of public health and head of the School’s Women and Health Initiative, and Rifat Atun, professor of global health systems, contributed to the report.

According to the report:

  • More than one death in seven worldwide is the consequence of environmental pollution, which is the single greatest cause of disease and death in poorer countries.
  • Air pollution accounts for over 6 million deaths worldwide: In 2015, outdoor air pollution was responsible for more than 4 million deaths, over 50% of which occurred in China and India, and an additional 2.8 million deaths occurred as a result of household air pollution.
  • The World Bank estimated that, in 2013, air pollution cost the world economy some US$225 billion in lost labor income.

Read the Emerging Markets Symposium press release: World’s leading experts warn of irreversible environmental destruction and disastrous economic and health consequences of unregulated economic ambition