Environmental indicators, modelling and outlooks

Health and Environment Chapter of the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction



Without new policies, by 2050, air pollution is set to become the world’s top environmental cause of premature mortality under the Outlook Baseline  scenario.

Air pollution concentrations in some cities, particularly in Asia, already far exceed World Health Organization safe levels. By 2050, the number of premature deaths from exposure to particulate matter is projected to more than double to reach 3.6 million a year globally, with most deaths occurring in China and India. Because of their ageing and urbanised populations, OECD countries are likely to have one of the highest , second only to India.

The burden of disease related to exposure to hazardous chemicals is significant worldwide, but more severe in non-OECD countries where chemical safety measures are still insufficient. Yet, non-OECD countries are projected to greatly increase chemicals production, with the BRIICS overtaking the OECD in global sales by 2050 under the Baseline.

While OECD governments are making progress in assessing human exposure to chemicals, knowledge of the health impacts is still limited.

Global premature deaths from selected environmental risks: Baseline, 2010 to 2050

* Note: Child mortality only
Source: OECD Environmental Outlook Baseline; output from IMAGE model suite.

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  • Meeting of OECD Environment Ministers, 29-30 March 2012, Paris

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