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Les vrais coûts de la pollution atmosphérique

PARIS – La pollution atmosphérique réduit l’espérance de vie des gens.  Elle provoque des douleurs importantes et de la souffrance, chez les adultes comme chez les enfants. Et elle entrave la production alimentaire, à un moment où nous avons besoin de nourrir un nombre de personnes plus important que jamais. Il ne s’agit pas seulement d’une question économique, mais aussi d'ordre moral.

La pollution atmosphérique peut être produite à la fois à l’extérieur et à l’intérieur. Pour les familles les plus pauvres, le smog intérieur issu des poêles de cuisson utilisant du charbon ou du fumier est généralement le problème le plus grave. Lorsque les économies se développent et commencent à s’électrifier, à se motoriser et à s’urbaniser, la pollution de l'air extérieur devient le plus gros problème.

Des technologies plus propres sont disponibles, qui ont le potentiel d'améliorer considérablement la qualité de l'air. Le problème est que les décideurs ont tendance à faire preuve de myopie, en se concentrant sur les coûts de l'action au lieu ceux de l'inaction. Or, cette approche est intenable. En effet, la croissance économique et l’augmentation de la demande d'énergie alimenteront inévitablement une hausse constante des émissions de polluants atmosphériques, ainsi qu’une augmentation rapide des concentrations de particules et d’ozone au cours des prochaines décennies.

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