Pathways towards clean air in India

Purohit, P. ORCID:, Amann, M. ORCID:, Kiesewetter, G. ORCID:, Rafaj, P. ORCID:, Chaturvedi, V., Dholakia, H., Nagarkoti, P., Klimont, Z. ORCID:, et al. (2019). Pathways towards clean air in India. In: European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly 2019, 7–12 April 2019, Vienna, Austria.

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The fast economic and population growth in India’s urban areas and the limited control of pollution are causing
public health problems and significant environmental degradation, including air, water, land and greenhouse gases,
which undermines the potential for sustainable socioeconomic development of the country, particularly with
impacts on the poor. To improve air quality and enhance economic and social development, the Government of
India has issued a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for annual average PM2.5 concentrations of
40 �g/m3. However, this standard is widely exceeded, and according to the World Health Organisation (WHO),
India was home to 13 out of the 15 most polluted cities worldwide in terms of PM2.5 concentrations in 2016.
This study explores pathways towards achieving the NAAQS in India in the context of the dynamics of social and
economic development up to 2050.
For this purpose, we employ two well-established scientific modelling tools that explore the socio-economic
drivers of pollution (the GCAM model), in particular, energy consumption, and the GAINS model that explores
effective policy interventions to reduce population exposure and health impacts. We estimate that in 2015 more
than half of the Indian population, i.e. about 670 million people, was exposed to ambient PM2.5 concentrations
that do not comply with India’s NAAQS, and less than 1% enjoyed air quality conforming with the global WHO
guideline value of 10 �g/m3. Without further political action, this figure is not expected to improve.
While the existing emission control measures are effectively decoupling the trends of air pollutant emissions from
economic growth, their impacts on ambient air quality are not directly visible since they are compensated by
the rapid expansion of economic activities. The analysis reveals that advanced technical emission controls can
deliver air quality improvements in India, but will not be sufficient to achieve the NAAQS everywhere. However, a
package of development and decarbonization measures that are usually taken for other policy priorities can deliver
significant co-benefits on air quality and achieve compliance with NAAQS for the vast majority of the population.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Programs: Air Quality & Greenhouse Gases (AIR)
Depositing User: Michaela Rossini
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2019 10:00
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:31

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