A multi-stakeholder approach that includes actors such as the government, private sector, and community needs to be adopted to improve the air quality in India.
India faced economic losses of an estimated US$36 billion annually which is nearly 1.736 percent of its GDP, due to premature deaths and morbidity caused by air pollution.
The private sector is a major contributor to air pollution, and therefore, must be actively engaged to combat air pollution. Making supply chains and processes environmental friendly can help reduce air pollution. The private sector has the technical expertise and in-depth knowledge about sectors. For example, sharing its expertise in big-data analytics can provide a valuable tool to combat air pollution by making air monitoring more effective and allowing decision-makers to make timely interventions. Also, the private sector can design innovative solutions that have the potential to be sustainable solutions for air pollution. Innovations such as energy-efficient industrial lubricants developed by ExxonMobil not only reduce emissions but also increase competitiveness. Providing suitable incentives can spur the private sector to develop such innovative ideas that address environmental viability along with profitability. Moving towards pathways that reduce air pollution requires significant financial investment. Governments have limited scope to increase financial commitments due to fiscal constraints. Thus, the role of private finance becomes all the more important. A suitable financial architecture is needed that can leverage private investments in clean air. A dedicated investment fund to aid the transition to environment-friendly technologies can help ease the adoption of such technologies. The investment fund can also be utilised to fund startups that work towards combating air pollution.
Increasing the number of air pollution monitoring stations, especially in rural areas can increase the data available and help develop targeted interventions to mitigate air pollution.
Currently, the health outcomes of air pollution are monitored mainly for urban populations, which leaves out the vast majority of Indians (70 percent) living in rural areas. Rural women are one of the most vulnerable groups due to their exposure to indoor air pollution contributed by burning of firewood. Tribal communities are also vulnerable to air pollution due to the presence of mining and industrial activities near their settlements which contribute to air pollution. Thus, it is important to include communities, especially those that are vulnerable to develop inclusive solutions to air pollution. Representation should be given to women and tribal communities in environmental policymaking and their consent must be necessary for large-scale industrial or mining projects. Also, community-based solutions to combat air pollution should be encouraged. These solutions can take various forms such as community drives for afforestation, self-help groups that spread awareness among their members and strengthening capacities of rural communities to adopt cleaner fuels.
A suitable financial architecture is needed that can leverage private investments in clean air. A dedicated investment fund to aid the transition to environment-friendly technologies can help ease the adoption of such technologies.
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Karnik Neel Nitin is a researcher whose interests like in behaviour science energy policy and climate change.Read More +