More than 660 million Indians live in areas that exceed the country’s standard for what is considered safe exposure to fine particulate pollution (PM2.5). To help improve India’s air quality, researchers from the University of Chicago and Harvard Kennedy School have laid out five key evidence-based policy recommendations in a new policy brief titled “A Roadmap Towards Cleaning India’s Air.”
“Air pollution is causing hundreds of millions of people in India to lead shorter and sicker lives,” said Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics and the director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and the Tata Centre for Development at UChicago (TCD). “However, we are at the dawn of a new era where the combination of advances in computing power and big data are creating radical new opportunities for environmental regulations to reduce air pollution, without undermining the urgent goal of robust economic growth in India.”
The recommendations included: Improving emissions monitoring by better aligning incentives of auditors, providing regulators with real-time data on polluters’ emissions, applying monetary charges for excess emissions, providing the public with information about polluters, and using markets to reduce abatement costs and pollution.
Elaborating further, Rohini Pande, the Rafik Hariri Professor of International Political Economy and co-director of Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at Harvard Kennedy School, said, “While the economic costs of pollution are high, and there is no easy solution, we remain optimistic because of the incredible innovations currently being experimented with throughout India.”
The policy brief was issued in conjunction with the National Conference on Innovations in Pollution Regulation, organized by EPIC-India and the TCD in New Delhi on 13 August. Aimed at facilitating knowledge sharing between policymakers, regulators and academics on pollution regulation and measurement, representatives from more than five state pollution control boards and experts from India and abroad attended the conference (read the post-conference report here).
Inaugurated by Hon’ble Justice Mr. Adarsh Kumar Goel, Chairman of the National Green Tribunal, the discussions throughout the day delved deep to explore questions around the role of pollution data in decision-making, the need for better quality data, strengthening enforcement through public disclosure, and the advantages of market-based instruments in reducing pollution, among others.
Read more in the policy brief here.