A loss of epic proportions: According to a recent analyses, the world is losing close to a gargantuan US$ 3 trillion due to air pollution from burning fossil fuels and its health impacts | Photo: MNN

Air pollution from fossil fuels costs the world $2.9 trillion and India $150 billion annually: Study

A recent report produced by Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air says air pollution from fossil fuels costs India Rs10.7 lakh crore (US$150 billion) annually or 5.4% of its GDP. Greenpeace said this was the third-highest cost from fossil fuel air pollution worldwide. China tops the highest cost with US$900 billion followed by the United States with US$600 billion. According to the report, the total economic and health costs arising from burning fossil fuels amounted to a whopping US$2.9 trillion in 2018 or US$8 billion per day. The report also estimates a million deaths in India annually because of pollution generated from fossil fuels and 980,000 pre-term births. The study highlighted other sources of India’s economic costs, including around 350,000 new cases of child asthma each year linked to NO2, a by-product of fossil fuel combustion. As a result, around 1,285,000 more children in India live with asthma linked to fossil fuel pollution. Exposure to pollution from fossil fuels also leads to around 49 crore days of work absence due to illness, the study stated.

China shut down over Coronavirus: Automakers may seek extension of BS-IV deadline 

Will India miss the BS IV vehicle registration deadline because of the Coronavirus outbreak in China? Mahindra and Mahindra officials said the industry might seek an extension of the deadline to register BS-IV vehicles from the Apex court if critical components from China do not arrive in time amidst the novel coronavirus outbreak. The current deadline is set for March 31, 2020 before which companies have to manufacture and sell their existing BS IV inventory.

Many auto parts come from China, therefore automakers are worried because shortage of a few critical components can stall the entire production line. Companies that were still manufacturing BS-IV emission norms compliant vehicles have found themselves in a fix as these vehicles cannot be registered in India after March 31 when the BS-VI norms come into force and most parts for these vehicles have already been sourced, ET reported.

Country’s largest air quality monitoring network to be set up in Mumbai

Mumbai’s Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) approved an air quality monitoring network of 90 stations in the city, making it the largest such network to come up in India. The proposed network will provide hourly and daily concentration levels for pollutants like particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5, PM10) as well as three-day forecasts. Monitoring of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ground-level ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) will be introduced in subsequent stages. 

Mumbai witnessed an 80% spike in particulate matter concentration from 2007 to 2018. PM10 (solid and liquid particles less than 10 microns suspended in the air, predominantly a part of dust, which can cause health ailments) concentration was the highest in 20 years in 2018 at 162 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m3), which was almost thrice the national ambient air quality safety standards (60 µg/m3), and eight times the international standards (20 µg/m3) identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The 2019 average has not been published by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) yet.

India has shut down 170 coal plants so far: MOEFCC Advisor

India has shut down 170 old and inefficient power units so far, a senior environment ministry advisor told attendees at an industry event in New Delhi. He added that India is committed to 40% non-fossil fuel based energy by 2030. Last month, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her budget speech that the government will advise utilities to close thermal power plants that are in violation of National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) norms. The budget allocated Rs4,400 crore for NCAP for 2020-21. However, experts say India’s coal consumption will double by 2040.

Last year, a global study said power plants in India were the unhealthiest in the world. India still has many older power plants that do not cut sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury emissions and they are equipped with insufficient flue gas treatment. These plants also often burn coal of inferior quality, the report had said.

Switchover to emission norms unlikely to create headwind for tractor industry: ICRA

A study by ratings agency ICRA stated the new Bharat Stage (BS IV) emission norms for the tractor industry, which will come into force in October 2020, will not leave much impact on cutting air pollution or create headwinds for the industry. The report said the emission norms are only applicable to tractors with 50HP engines, which account for only 13% of industry sales. The rest of the machines (i.e. tractors below 50HP) will move to the new norms only from October 2023, the agency added. ICRA experts said the passing of the incremental cost to the farmers is likely to prove to be a challenge, given the price sensitive nature of the farming community.

CSE report: Delhi air cleaner, but Centre’s data on clean air not based on real-time monitoring

The latest study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said New Delhi had 50% more cleaner air days in 2019, compared to four years ago. In 2019, Delhi had nearly 200 days when PM2.5 (particulate matter of size 2.5 micron) fell in the ‘good’ to ‘moderate’ categories, CSE said. Based on Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data, the report, Breathing Space: How to track and report air pollution under the National Clean Air Programme, said the PM2.5 levels in Delhi have come down by 25-30% over the past few years. The report pointed out major gaps in air quality monitoring in the country. Consider this: India is expected to cut 30% air pollution in 122 cities highly polluted cities by 2024 compared to 2017 levels, which means reducing pollution by 6% annually in each of the 122 cities, and reporting it. CSE researchers said the authorities do not know the methods and standard operating procedures for such reporting. How will cities know if their pollution levels are rising or declining? The report also pointed out that the government uses data from manual air pollution monitors and not real-time data, which is far more continuous and voluminous than manual data to establish a long-term trend.