Current pollution measures may not give long-term results: Study
Current pollution control measures may improve air quality in the country over the next decade, but pollution levels will shoot up again by 2050 if air pollution control policies are not scaled up to meet higher consumption and urbanisation, says a report released on Friday by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).
Compared to 52% or 677 million people who were exposed to high pollution levels above the national safe standard in 2015, about 45% or 674 million of the population in 2030 will be exposed to poor air then.
This reduction will be owing to various pollution control measures which are currently in the offing such as implementation of BS-VI standards for vehicles by 2020 and the implementation of solid waste management rules which underlines segregation of waste at source.
The relief isn’t expected to last, though. By 2050, this number will increase to 930 million or 56% of the projected population, the study shows. For example, lax regulations could allow PM2.5 emissions from the industrial sector to increase by a factor of three following an increase in industrial production by 2050.
Air pollution could also cost more to control by 2050. Pollution emission control costs accounted for 0.7% of the GDP in 2015. But this will increase to 1.4-1.7% by 2030 and 1.1-1.5% by 2050.
“The 2018 legislations are effective; they will bring down pollution levels. But we cannot afford to stop at that. To ensure that pollution levels remain low, we have to bring in more and more stringent measures to keep pace with growing consumption,” said Hem Dholakia, Senior Research Associate at CEEW.
Long term exposure to polluted air contributes to 6 to 7 million premature deaths from stroke, heart attack, lung cancer, and chronic lung diseases globally.
By 2030, the ambient PM 2.5 levels will decline by 14% on an average as compared to 2015 levels across the country. However, the concentrations will rebound again and will substantially exceed 2015 levels, the study said.
“A large share of pollution can be addressed if poor households that currently use solid fuels and cash-strapped local bodies are given a helping hand in,” says Markus Amann, Program Director of Air quality and Greenhouse Gases at IIASA.
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