Holding fossil fuel as a major culprit, a report by Greenpeace on Friday said that total deaths caused due to air pollution in India is underestimated at least by six lakh people.
According to the report, air pollution kills over 1.6 million people in India and China every year due to increasing use of fossil fuels, particularly coal. It adds that out of the 6.5 million global deaths from air pollution in 2015, 3.4 million deaths were in China and India.
“Air pollution due to continued use of fossil fuels denies both India and China the fruits of a flourishing economy,” said Coal and Air Pollution Expert at Greenpeace Lauri Myllyvirta.
In India, the toll was 1,809,053 and for China, the figure stood at 1,587,840 in 2015. Myllyvirta added that as countries become richer, they generally develop less polluting industries, but in the case of India and China, the trend has been quite the opposite.
“Despite their economic growth, both countries have particularly poor air quality,” said Myllyvirta. Over 60 per cent of India’s power demand is met using the coal-fired thermal plants.
“The actual numbers of deaths in India were about 1.8 million and 1.5 million in China. The expected number of deaths based on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in India and China were calculated to be 1.2 million and 558,000 respectively,” the report points out.
Air pollution deaths in China and India are three to four times higher than in high-income countries. The report points out that more people die in India and China against the assessments based on their economic growths. As per the assessment, India and Bangladesh top with about 120 to 140 out of 100,000 people dying due to the air pollution. For Pakistan, Myanmar and China, the range is 100 to 120 deaths per 100,000 people.
On the other hand, in countries like the UK, Japan, the US, France and Germany, 36 persons die due to air pollution out of 100,000. On the brighter side, the report acknowledges that the death rate due to indoor air pollution has decreased.
“In China, between 2005 and 2015, the indoor air pollution death rate fell from 70 to 43 per 100,000 and in India from 86 to 74,” report says. The report also praises India and China for efforts to replace coal with clean energy.
“India has a target of 350GW of renewable capacity by 2030 and had 82GW of renewable power capacity in 2015. China’s target of hydro, wind and solar power capacity is 650GW by 2020 and it had 520GW of capacity in 2015,” the report says.