China has grabbed all the headlines in recent years for its toxic air pollution, and images of smog choking its megacities have made international news, but new research says this deadly problem is becoming a bigger problem in India. Reuters reports:
“India’s situation is getting worse at a much faster speed than China,” Dan Greenbaum, president of Boston-based Health Effects Institute (HEI), told Reuters in Beijing. “It is definitely the case because India has not taken as much action on air pollution.” […]
India is…ramping up coal production as Prime Minister Narendra Modi races to meet election promises to provide electricity to a population of 1.3 billion. “Chinese actions to control emissions from coal power plants and from industries are considerably more strong than the ones in India,” Greenbaum said.
Both countries are working to develop as quickly as possible, and that’s meant burning enormous quantities of coal. All of that energy production and the heavy industries it supports is producing local air pollution, costing both countries billions of dollars in the form of healthcare costs, material damages, and premature deaths of its citizens.
China burns roughly half of the world’s coal, and the problem is currently larger there than it is in India. As a result, Beijing has done more to combat its smog than New Delhi, which is precisely why researchers are saying the number of deaths from Indian air pollution is going to rise much quicker than those deaths caused by smog in China.
Clueless greens would tell China and India to abandon coal altogether, but that ignores the tremendous need both countries have to urbanize and grow. But that doesn’t mean that Asia has to endure unbreathable air in order for it to develop: smart growth opportunities like embracing telework or the less materially- and energy-intensive information economy could help China and India grow in a more sustainable fashion. More to the point, nuclear power and natural gas (which emits just half the CO2 and far fewer of the local pollutants than coal does) can help displace coal and clear city skies in the process.