By Nitin Bansal
Pollution, a major contributor to climate change, is a growing concern in India, as it is around the world. The country faces one of the highest disease burdens from air pollution in the world, with an estimated 100% of the population living in areas with PM2.5 concentrations – pollution particles that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres – above the World Health Organization’s guidelines.
India is home to more than 17% of the world’s population, making it the world’s second most populous country. That population is increasingly migrating from the countryside to cities – it’s estimated that approximately 25-30 people migrate every minute to cities from the rural areas in India. Delhi, the national capital, grew from a meagre 1 million people in 1950 to a staggering 28 million people by 2018 – that’s more than half of the combined population of all national capitals in the ASEAN region. With further development and population growth, increases in ambient air pollution are anticipated.
In Gujarat, a “cap and trading” programme has been launched to curb particulate air pollution. It’s a collaboration between industry, local municipal authorities, the University of Chicago and Harvard University. In this programme, the government sets a cap on emissions and allows factories to buy and sell permits to stay below the cap. Under the emissions trading system, industries must hold a permit for each unit of particulate that they emit and must comply with the prescribed standard of 150 milligrams per cubic metre of particulate matter released into the atmosphere.