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Source– The post is based on the article “India’s high growth a good position for G20, but urban pollution must be checked” published in The Indian Express on 28th November 2022.
Syllabus: GS3- Environment degradation
Relevance: Urban pollution in India
News- The article explains the increasing urban pollution in India and steps needed to reduce pollution. It also explains the scenario of climate change.
What is India’s strength?
India is a shining star. As per the IMF forecast its GDP growth is expected to be 6.8% in 2022 and 6.1% expected in 2023. India will surpass China in two successive years by a wide margin.
Why is urban pollution a big problem for India?
Delhi is being branded as the most polluted city in the world. The Air Quality Index of Delhi during November 1-15, stood at 267. In comparison, Washington stood DC at 8, and Beijing at 97. Delhi has the poorest AQI amongst the G20 nations.
The Air Quality Life Index Report (2022) of the University of Chicago claims that Delhites are losing their life expectancy by 10 years
What is the scenario of climate change?
There is a global call for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change has started causing significant damage through heat waves, droughts and floods of increasing intensity and frequency.
The COP27 agreement on creating a “loss and damage fund” for compensating developing countries is a good beginning. But the international community is falling far short of the Paris targets.
According to Climate Watch, the biggest GHG emitters in 2019 were China (12.06 billion tonnes of CO2), the United States (5.77 Bt CO2), and India (3.36 Bt CO2).
However, in terms of GHG emissions on a per capita basis in 2021, Australia tops. It is followed by Saudi Arabia, and Canada. In terms of per capita emissions and emission intensity of GDP, India is in a relatively much better position.
What is the way forward to tackle urban pollution in India?
According to SAFAR, the largest share of stubble burning to Delhi’s AQI this year was 34 per cent. Measures aimed at stubble management are not likely to succeed. There is a need to reduce the paddy area in Punjab by at least one million hectares.
The switch away from paddy towards crops such as maize, soyabean, pulses requires a “diversification strategy” for at least five years. It requires handsomely rewarding farmers with carbon credits, and savings of water and energy.
Vehicular emission in Delhi is another major cause of poor AQI. A fast-track strategy to promote electric vehicles is the answer. Incentivising and even subsidising EVs and charging stations in all parking lots and residential colonies is the need of the day.
To control dust, heavy fines must be enforced on builders who do not use water sprinklers multiple times a day at construction sites.
All thermal power plants in and around Delhi must be replaced with more renewable energy sources.
Solarisation should be made mandatory for all government buildings, schools, as well as public spaces with a minimum specified area. Easy access to finance for such renewables would be key.