Air Pollution

Emission levels rising faster in Indian cities than in China


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Problem of Vehicular Pollution in India


  • Urbanisation is accelerating greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in India at a faster than in China says a study that analysed the link between population density and emissions from transport, across India’s districts.
  • The study is to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters.

Vehicular emissions

  1. The experience in most developed countries was that urbanisation led to a reduction in emissions.
  2. More urbanisation meant shorter distances between the workplace and home and thereby, a preference for public transport.
  3. However this didn’t effectively apply to developing countries.
  4. On an average, an Indian emitted about 20 kg per capita while commuting for work, with the highest (140 kg CO2) in Gurugram district (Haryana) and the lowest (1.8 kg CO2) in Shrawasti district (UP).

Why blame New Delhi?

  1. Delhi had the highest commuting emissions per capita — a factor that also contributed to its high level of pollution — and the national capital region had 2.5 times higher commuting emissions than Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad.
  2. Delhi’s higher socio-economic status and heavy reliance on private travel modes led to higher commuting emissions than in other megacities.
  3. There were several instances of districts with similar population density but varying per capita emissions.

Indian emission exceeds China

  1. In China a 1% increase in urbanisation was linked with a 0.12% increase in CO2 emissions whereas, in India, it translated into 0.24% increase in emissions, said the study.
  2. India’s CO2 emission grew by an estimated 4.6% in 2017 and its per-capita emission was about 1.8 tonnes.
  3. In spite of being the 4th largest emitter, India’s per capita emissions are much lower than the world average of 4.2 tonnes.
  4. But those emissions have been growing steadily, with an average growth rate over the past decade of 6%, according to data from the Global Carbon Project.

Fuel Price hike has no impact

  1. Fuel price hikes aren’t always a solution to curb emissions, the study says.
  2. With a ₹1 increase in diesel price, commuting emissions decreased by 11% in some districts whereas it only fell by about 3% in low-income districts.
  3. In total, India’s transport patterns are very climate friendly, and much better than those of Europe and the United States.
  4. Some districts are mostly relying on three-wheelers for short commuting distances, while others are highly urban, rich, and rely on cars.
  5. The mean commuting distance (among commuters) is 5.9 km, with the lowest 1.3 km in Longleng district (Nagaland) and the highest 14 km in Dharmapuri district (Tamil Nadu).
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