Researchers have concluded Johannesburg is the worst-hit place in South Africa with regards to air pollution as it costs people 3.23 years of their life. The four million people living in Jo’burg risk dying three years earlier compared to Cape Town residents, this is due to the immensely polluted air in this South African city.
The country known to be Africa’s most industrialised nation is among the most polluted in Africa owed to how heavily it relies on coal. Reports show that the Southern Africa country is dependent on coal for 97 percent of its primary energy.
An earlier analysis of satellite imagery by Greenpeace, the Netherlands-based environmental non-profit, showed the world’s deadliest air pollution spot is in South Africa.
In a bid to provide a solution to the menace, the government of South Africa earlier introduced a carbon tax where big companies emitting a lot of pollution pay for the carbon tax.
The move has been criticised by experts who have highlighted carbon taxes are antigrowth, anti-jobs and anti-investment for a country whose unemployment rate is more than 27 percent.
Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) calculates how many years people lose from living in polluted areas for their whole life. The survey calculates the impacts of air pollution on life expectancy. The report noted that “air pollution cuts the average person’s life short by nearly 2 years more than devastating communicable diseases like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, behavioral killers like cigarette smoking, and even war.”
World Bank data shows that South Africa’s emissions amount to 8.9 tonnes per person yearly and which they say is among the highest in the developing world. The Cyril Ramaphosa-led state is ranked among dirtiest energy producers in the world at it falls at number 16 on the global emissions list.
The World Health Organisation said 20 000 South Africans die each year because of air pollution. Eskom revealed that its pollution leads to 333 deaths a year. Most companies don’t share the impacts their polluting activity has on the people.
Many South Africans, especially those living near coal power stations have expressed concern over their health due to the highly populated air in South Africa mostly emitted by industries. But for a long time, Information surrounding the amount of air pollution has been kept under wraps and is only accessible to polluters and regulators.
The air is polluted mainly through the burning of domestic fuel, vehicle emissions; Gauteng alone has close to five million registered vehicles. Industries and biomass burning are also among major pollutants of air in Johannesburg.
South Africa has air quality monitoring stations. These stations are which are normally designed to support human health objectives. High pollution levels have been recorded in the parts of the city that have been occupied by the poor.
Notably, higher pollution levels have been recorded during the cold seasons when most people still use fossil fuel to stay warm.
Featured Image Courtesy: Smithsonian Magazine