What is the cost of India's deadly air pollution? | Counting the Cost


India is home to 15 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world with some studies indicating nearly 700 million Indians are exposed to unhealthy air.

“If you add up the number of years we are losing because of illness, because of the productive time, all of these are coming at huge economic costs,” Anumita Roychowdhury of the Centre for Science and Environment told Al Jazeera’s Neha Tara Mehta.

As one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, India aims to reach the five-trillion-dollar mark over the next few years. But according to the World Bank, the country lost over 8.5 percent of its GDP in 2013 due to air pollution. And the latest research from the Indian Statistical Institute shows that reducing pollution would help the country make billions.

“If we could cut air pollution to zero every Indian would be willing to pay about $300 per year to cut that risk. The total benefit would be about $300bn or $400bn per year,” professor E Somanathan, of the Indian Statistical Institute, said.

Experts say there are lessons to be learned from China, when it comes to fixing the country’s poor air quality.

“China puts air pollution not as part of an environment agenda, it is part of the national planning process. So obviously it is an economic agenda,” Prarthana Borah, India director of Clean Air Asia, said. “We definitely need to integrate air within development policy.”

Over a million Indians died in 2017 because of the country’s dirty air, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study.

The Indian government has consistently maintained there is no direct correlation between air pollution and deaths though air pollution has been linked to a third of all lung cancer deaths in India.

But an increasing number of doctors say there is a clear link between air pollution and mortality.

What’s the economic cost of Hong Kong’s ongoing protests?
Already under pressure from the US-China trade war, now Hong Kong’s anti-government protests could plunge the city’s economy into a recession.

One city-wide strike costs the economy as much as $332m, according to economists.

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas also reports that hotel occupancy rates in June when protests began were three percent down, and July’s figures may show steeper falls with many mainland Chinese reluctant to visit Hong Kong.

“If the protests continue and escalate and become uncontrollable then that will have a significant impact on Hong Kong’s credit rating and that will be a huge negative impact,” economist Stephen Chiu said. “The cost of doing business will be high and that will have an impact on their profits.”

How is climate change shaping Norway’s shipping, fishing and oil industries?
In the far north of Norway, the Lofoten Islands are a scene of raw beauty that also meets an important fishing area and a tourism hub for those who want to get up close to nature.

Yet, wealth also lies beneath the water, where geologists have said there is an untapped oil field estimated to be worth $60bn.

Norway is a nation made rich by four decades of oil and gas extraction, with a sovereign wealth fund worth one trillion dollars. But tourist guide Tord Soderlund explains that the oil underneath the island’s waters may not be worth taking a chance on.

“I’m really afraid of the damages that could happen if there is a big oil spill. I wouldn’t take the risk,” Soderlund told Al Jazeera.

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