Last week, China, the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, announced it was opening a national carbon market, a type of emissions trading system. Under the system, industrial units that cannot meet annual government-set greenhouse gas emissions targets will have to purchase surplus targets from units that met theirs.
A pilot emissions trading scheme (ETS) for particulate matter pollution implemented in Surat, Gujarat in September 2019–the world’s first such programme–works similarly. Industries participating in the pilot scheme reduced their particulate matter pollution by 24% (with an 8% margin of error), compared to industries that continued to be under the business-as-usual regulation of complying with ambient air quality standards, an initial analysis of the effectiveness of the scheme has projected.
Particulate matter, a major cause of air pollution in and around industrial clusters, is a mixture of fine solid particles and liquid droplets suspended in the air. These fine particles, when inhaled and after entering the bloodstream, can cause lung and cardiovascular disease. In 2017, air pollution caused one in every eight deaths and a total of 1.24 million deaths in India, IndiaSpend reported in December 2018.
Last month, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced that the pilot scheme would be replicated in Ahmedabad. The Punjab government also signed a pact on June 7 to roll out a similar system in Ludhiana. Surat and Ludhiana are home to some of India’s largest industrial clusters.