Is Donald Trump right in calling India’s air 'filthy'?
PTI Photo

US President Donald Trump has described India's air as "filthy" during the presidential debate with his Democratic challenger Joe Biden while discussing the environment and the Paris climate change agreement.

“We have so many different programmes, we have clean air. Look at China. How filthy it is. Look at Russia, look at India. It is filthy. We have done a good job environmentally, and have the cleanest air,” Trump said, talking about the air quality.

The remark may upset some, but Donald Trump’s comment on the poor air quality in India comes at a time when experts have warned of a continued rise in pollution.

Over the years, stubble burning has been identified as one of the key factors for air pollution in Delhi and its surrounding areas leading the air quality to drop to dangerous levels in October-November.

New Delhi's air quality has remained in the 'poor' category over the last week in October due to stubble burning in neighbouring states. As per Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) data, Air Quality Index (AQI) is at 442 in Alipur, in the 'severe' category. Experts have raised concerns that northern India is set to witness hazardous air quality this year too

While India remains committed to tackling climate change, but we have to face the hard truth that India does have a very real air pollution problem. For instance today's Air Quality Index (AQI) in some cities:

US Embassy, Delhi: 480 (Hazardous)

Knowledge Park, Greater Noida: 470 (Hazardous)

Powai, Mumbai: 148 (Unhealthy for sensitive groups)

Talkatora, Lucknow: 247 (Very Unhealthy)

Muradpur, Patna: 162 (Unhealthy)

India fourth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide:

Notably, India is the fourth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide. In 2017, the country made for 7% of the global emissions, claimed the Global Carbon Project in December 2018.

However, India still emitted less carbon dioxide than the United States. Out of 58% of global emissions in 2017, the US' share was 15%, China's 27%, and 10% came from the European Union.

Why air pollution so dangerous?

According to a study, 21 percent of all neonatal deaths in India are caused by air pollution. 116,000 infants die in India in the first month alone, according to a global comprehensive analysis of the impact of air pollution on newborns. The study also said that air pollution was the fourth leading risk factor – behind high blood pressure, tobacco, and poor diet – for premature deaths worldwide and accounted for nearly 12% of total deaths.

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