The sixth report of the “UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” (AR6), released in March 2022 stated, “it is unequivocal that humans have caused widespread and rapid changes to oceans, land and the atmospheric temperatures as many of these changes are irreversible”.COUNTRIES UNDER THE SPELL OF SMOG.
Emissions, which constitute smog, are a factor contributing to climate change and have caused 1.5 degrees increase in the temperature of the world.
Climate change is cumulative; however, the procedures and policies in western/ developed countries are already in place to reduce emissions.
The poor and countries having large populations are worst hit by the smog, necessitating measures on a war footing.
The Air Quality Index calculates the annual average concentration of PM 2.5 – one of the finest of Particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 – in micrograms divided by the cubic meters (µg/m³); World Health Organization’s standard for clean air is 5 micrograms per cubic meter of PM 2.5.
China was the world’s most affected country by smog in the first decade of the 20th century. However, South Asia has taken the lead and is now consider the most polluted region of the world. COUNTRIES UNDER THE SPELL OF SMOG. As per Greenpeace and Airvisual, 15 out of the world’s 20 most polluted cities lie in India. Bangladesh is the most polluted country in the world at 76.9 µg/m³. Other countries included in the top five polluted countries are India, Pakistan, Chad, and Tajikistan.COUNTRIES UNDER THE SPELL OF SMOG.
Countries Worst hit by the Smog – India and Pakistan
With every fall of winter, India’s cities gasp for breathing air – thanks to soaring levels of air pollution. New Delhi – the Capital is the worst smog-hit city in India. As per the World Air Quality Report of 2021, released in March 2022 by Swiss air quality Technology Company “IQAir”, an increase of 14.6% has been observed in the fine toxic Particulate matter as compared to the previous year. Already high levels of PM 2.5 are exacerbated due to the burning of crops and their residue in the neighboring states; cooler temperature traps the toxic smoke resulting in an obscured sky with thick, grey smog or haze.
The Government had to close schools for a week and directed offices to shift to work from home for reducing vehicle exhaust in Nov 2021, due to the severity of the issue. The city government even contemplated a complete lockdown of the city. The country’s dependence on coal for electricity and emissions from industries using non-energy efficient plants is also linked to the soaring levels of air pollution – causing smog.
India rolled out the “National Clean Air Program” (NCAP) in 2019 to improve air quality in more than 100 cities. The initiative has proved to be ineffective due to underfunding and poor design. India’s demand to change the agreement, at Climate talks on Nov 2021 in Glasgow, from “Phase out” to “Phase down” amid her faster-growing need for energy has also met severe criticism and raised concerns among the experts for India’s fight against Climate change or worsening air quality.COUNTRIES UNDER THE SPELL OF SMOG
Pakistan is the third most polluted country in the world, having 66.8 µg/m³ levels of PM 2.5. Lahore, Faisalabad, and Gujranwala are the cities that have been severely affected by the smog. Experts attribute the ill-planed urbanization, industrialization, brick kilns, heavy traffic, low-quality fuel, and crop burning. The rising levels of smog. Contrary to perception, only 20% of the pollutants constituting smog originate from crop burning and transport-related pollutants account for a significant chunk of the smog, i.e. 43%, with the rest of the pollutants coming from power generation and Industry.
The Government has taken isolated measures like tree plantation and resolved to shift to Euro5 fuel, to fight rising air pollution . That speaks of the Government’s indifferent attitude towards smog resulting in an incoherent and inadequate response. COUNTRIES UNDER THE SPELL OF SMOG.
China – A case study
Lately, China is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and has suffered drastically. Environmental consequences of water scarcity and soil contamination. Like the rest of us, China is also likely to face harsh realities of Climate change in the form of floods and droughts. However, in her fight against smog and air pollution, Beijing implemented policies to shed away its emissions and pledged to be Carbon Neutral by 2060 in the Paris Agreement of 2015 on Climate Change.
Since her campaign, launched in 2013, to take on the menace of smog, China has impressively brought down. The avg concentration of small hazardous particles named PM is 2.5 to 30 micrograms per cubic meter; half of the levels of 2015. China’s remarkable performance in bringing down the levels of air pollution or smog is the result of initiatives like achieving Carbon neutrality by 2060, 25% renewable energy sources, reducing carbon intensity, and boosting forest coverage. Click here
A Cumulative Fight COUNTRIES UNDER THE SPELL OF SMOG
The scale of the problem is immense and dire consequences are unavoidable in years to come. Initiate all the correct steps starting today, it will take decades for the results to materialize. The acute health risk associated with ambient PM 2.5 pollution ruminates that short-term exposure can trigger. A series of adverse health effects and may lead to premature death. The onset of various diseases related to the Cardiovascular or respiratory system. furthermore
Smog or Air pollution alone caused 1.4 million premature deaths in China in 2019 and an increase of 10. Micrograms may lead to a 0.34% increase in hospitalization for health issues related to respiratory or Cardiovascular effects. A study by the Global Alliance on Health and pollution in 2018 estimated. The death of 128,000 Pakistanis yearly, due to health issues caused by air pollution. Indian experts have asked for a health emergency due to 1.2 million deaths annually and 1.7 years of less life. Expectancy because of smog too or air pollution. South Asia, particularly Pakistan and India, have to craft policies for reducing emissions and administrative paraphernalia has to implement. The policies stringently for saving their population from the worst effects of smog or air pollution.