India combats air pollution by investing in renewable energy
Twenty-two of the world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India. Climate change driven by worsening atmospheric conditions, increased forest fires, stubble burning, and burning fossil fuels are some of the key factors that drive air pollution.
Twenty-two of the world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India. An analysis of air pollution readings from 3,000 cities around the world by Greenpeace and AirVisual shows that majority of the cities have fared poorly. “In addition to human lives lost, there’s an estimated global cost of 225 billion dollars in lost labour, and trillions in medical costs,” said Executive Director of Greenpeace South East Asia, Yeb Sano.
Nearly two percent of India’s GDP was spent on combating air pollution in the past five years. India is looking to change that, slowly but steadily.
Reducing emissions from fossil fuels
India is an example of a large developing country that is still industrialising. It must increasingly take steps to grow, keeping sustainability in mind. This is driven by domestic incentives to keep its greenhouse gas emissions in check.
India has come a long way and stepped up to improve its renewable energy profile. India's growth in renewable energy over just the last five years has been staggering. The costs of renewable energy in India have fallen 50 percent in the past two years.
India was the first country in the world to set up a ministry of non-conventional energy resources. Renewable energy in India comes under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
Its solar energy capacity increased eightfold from 2.63GW in 2014 to 22 GW in 2018. Meanwhile, the country has also made progress in improving its wind power capacity from 21 GW to 34 GW over the same period. This brings its total renewable energy capacity to 70 GW. Meanwhile, the number of planned coal plants has plummeted, shrinking by a quarter in the first half of 2018.
India's air pollution levels have become a domestic crisis and this investment in renewable energy is positive. For the Paris Climate Agreement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi set a target for the year 2022. The goal is to install units that generate 100 GW of solar energy, 60 GW of wind power, and 15 GW of biomass and small hydropower.