By Anant Sudarshan, EPIC-India
Daily gridlock traffic might seem like it’s draining the life out of you. For some, in cities throughout the world, it actually is. The main culprit: not the traffic itself, but the air pollution it creates. Air pollution does indeed cut lives short, as several studies have shown—including one by my colleagues and I that found people living in India are losing 3 years off their lives due to bad air pollution. In some cities, as much as 75% of that air pollution comes from vehicles.
Strong, lasting and comprehensive transportation policies make the difference between traffic being a daily nuisance or a quiet killer. While the transportation sector remains a heavy segment of U.S. emissions, the Clean Air Act—in terms of vehicles, through fuel economy standards—is helping to extend lifespans by cutting pollution through broad polices. But from Paris to my home in New Delhi, governments are trying to solve their pollution woes with band-aide approaches. They are not recognizing that lasting changes require lasting policies.