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  • Writer's pictureSofa Summits

How can Cities Improve Air Quality without Negatively Impacting the Economy?

Industrialization and urbanization are considered as the biggest contributors to air pollution, mainly in developing countries. In addition to air pollution, lead poisoning, insufficient water supply, lack of sanitation and hygiene and dangerous waste leads to debilitating and deadly illnesses and weakens the ecosystems.

China has been in limelight in recent years for poor air quality in over 300 it’s cities including Beijing. If we talk about Beijing, the conditions are so dangerous that people cannot a step out of their homes without their masks on. The infamous Beijing cough which is caused by the thick layer of smog has been affecting many people. Most of the households have an in-house air purifier, but in many cases, they also fail to deliver.

Air pollution and the economy

Many economies across the globe are facing a tough time as they fight against air pollution. Air pollution can be very costly and impacts badly on the local economy. Even for an $11-trillion plus economy like China, it is estimated that the Chinese economy is impacted at the rate of 6.5% p.a. due to air pollution. All its low-cost production houses are closed down on bad air days to avoid the further addition to the air pollution. The story is the same in several other countries like – Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, China, India, Lao PDR, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru and Zambia. As per the World Bank, the economic burden related to air pollution in these entire countries ranges from 5-14 % of the nation’s GDP.

How air pollution and economic growth are co-related?

The choices for developing countries are very limited as they are utilizing cheaper non-renewable resources like coal which contribute more than other resources to air pollution. But, for how long is this growth sustainable? In the quest for economic growth, people are getting badly affected by air pollution. Any national whose majority population lives under the threat of illness related to air pollution cannot develop after a certain point as people are their biggest resources to growth.

It is important that every nation now focuses on economic growth, but this must be achieved with reduced carbon emissions and an improvement in the air quality and health of citizens.

The Word Bank Board of Executive directors permitted a US$500 million loan to China in Dec 2016, this loan was made to help with air pollution management within the Jing-Jin-Ji region. The brand new set up aims to lessen air pollution and carbon emissions by growing power efficiency and clean energy in Jing-Jin-Ji and neighboring areas—specifically, Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi, internal Mongolia, and Henan.

So, among all these greys there are few bright spots as well.There are several innovative techniques that are being adopted worldwide to curb this problem. These techniques are designed in a manner that they help to reduce the carbon emission without impacting the economy. China is the current torchbearer on this issue and is followed by the others.

How can cities improve air quality without negatively impacting the economy?

  1. By strictly monitoring the air–quality. This can be done by a satellite system which can track and lessen the carbon emission.

  2. By using mist cannons, which are fired in the air to disperse the smog components.

  3. Moving from non-renewable to renewable resources of energy. The renewable sources of energy like sun, wind and water should aim to take over the non-renewable sources like coal which cause the maximum air pollution.

  4. By shifting to a service-based economy that generates lower emissions. Another step to improve economic would be by producing high-value goods with smaller amounts of energy

The future of the world economy will depend on how effectively we would utilize our renewable recourses and adapt to energy efficient ways. The conventional methods, which used non-renewable resources, have definitely driven the world economies in the past decades, but their fatal impacts are now seen in form of many health related problems. So, it is high time that we change our ways and adapt innovative methods that can improve air quality without negatively impacting the economy.


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