Green Peace Report on “Polluted Air Deaths”

Author: Sana Shaikh

Since childhood, we have been taught the disadvantages of Air Pollution. Whether it was a speech, essay, or project submission, this has been our go-to-topic. But do we genuinely ponder over the harmful impact of air pollution on our daily lives? Are we getting desensitized to the deaths caused by air pollution? Is our environmental consciousness degrading too?

Air Pollution is the presence of different harmful particles in the air that we breathe that cause respiratory disease and are fatal to our health. Since the industrialization era has begun, we can see that air pollution has become a global concern.

To study the impact of air pollution on daily basis, many organizations are striving to produce annual and bi-annual reports to increase the awareness and participation of fellow humans towards the environment. One such international organization, Green Peace[1], founded in 1971 by Irwing Stowe and Dorothy Stowe, is a non-governmental organization spanning 55 countries. It is based in Amsterdam with a formal name “Stitching Green peace Council”. It has wings and networks which publish the report geographically. Green Peace South East Asia studies the impact of climate change specifically in this geography. It has recently released its report on “Polluted Air Deaths” through the Green peace South East Asia Network.

According to the report, Delhi has suffered 54,000 deaths[2] approximately because of PM of size 2.5[3]. Delhi has been the victim of air pollution for a long time now. PM stands for Particulate Matter[4], a combination of the solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. The particles can be seen through an electron microscope only. It includes various gaseous particles such as sulphates, black carbon, Particle Bound Water, metals such as Cadmium, Copper, Nickel, Zinc as well as hydrocarbons. Biological components such as allergens chiefly pollen, dust mites, and fungi, are also categorized into different PM sizes.

What are the key researches talking about Indian Cities?

New Delhi has been studied closely by Green peace international. According to the report in July 2020, Green peace found out that Delhi suffered a loss of 24,000 lives in the first half of 2020 despite a strict Covid-19 lockdown. In 2020, air pollutant levels in Delhi remained six times above the WHO level limits of 10 micrograms annual mean. This massive human loss created a domino effect on the economy too. Delhi had to suffer the economic loss of USD 8.2 that is 13 % of Delhi’s total GDP.

Mumbai City also has been studied under the report. The report estimates 25,000 avoidable deaths in Mumbai in 2020 because of air pollution from PM 2.5 and Nitrogen-di-Oxide. The situation in other prominent cities is equally worrying. According to the report, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad closely have seen the loss of around 11,000 human lives each.

At the global level around 1,60,000 deaths[5] have been reported because of PM 2.5 air pollution in famous cities like Delhi, Mexico City, Sau Paolo, Shanghai, and Tokyo. The estimated cost of air pollution has exceeded USD 5 billion in 14 important global cities according to the analysis.

Surprisingly, the highest estimated financial cost has been reported from Tokyo in Japan, suffering 40,000 avoidable deaths and an economic loss of USD 43 Billion because of air pollution caused by PM 2.5 in the year 2020. This astonishing rise in air polluted deaths brings our attention to the very cause of air pollution that we are studying since childhood. The factual findings given above are done through unique tools such as “willingness-to-pay[6]”. Green peace organization uses this approach to study the impact of air pollution-related deaths on the economy.

Multiple factors are involved in the rising deaths, which need to be studied effectively. Industrial countries with higher carbon footprints, air pollution, and huge population have to be more careful about carbon releases. The hegemony between the two most powerful countries i.e., the USA and China is also blamed by the environmentalists for not having concrete decisions in taking steps together towards air pollution-free earth. At the local level, various steps have to be taken, right from our doorstep such as choosing BS norm compliant vehicle that goes hand-in-hand with the environmental metrics. The use of public transport and encouraging e-vehicles is also one way out. Some schemes are working towards development, such as National Clean Air Program[7] launched in 2019. It is a comprehensive pan-India air pollution plan for 102 cities.

In my opinion, the action to tackle Air Pollution should have political backing and willingness as well. We need assurance that we won’t be backing out from key agreements. Uniting people and taking action is more vital. Reforestation drives need to be enhanced. Awareness about different schemes run by the Government of India is a crucial step towards environmental consciousness. Through this is a small step, we can cover the long-distance one step at a time.


[1]https://www.greenpeace.org/global/ [2]https://www.firstpost.com/health/air-pollution-in-new-delhi-caused-54000-deaths-in-2020-finds-study-by-greenpeace-southeast-asia-9318421.html#:~:text=Health-,Air%20pollution%20in%20New%20Delhi%20caused%2054%2C000%20deaths%20in%202020,most%20populous%20cities%20last%20year. [3]https://www.greenpeace.org/india/en/press/10991/1800-deaths-per-million-estimated-due-to-pm2-5-air-pollution-in-delhi-reveals-a-new-finding-by-greenpeace-and-iqair/ [4]https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ambient-(outdoor)-air-quality-and-health, Particulate Matter (PM) [5]https://www.greenpeace.org/southeastasia/press/44319/pm2-5-air-pollution-behind-an-estimated-160000-deaths-in-world-5-biggest-cities-in-2020/ [6]https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/willingness-to-pay [7]https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=187400

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