Gujarat on Wednesday launched the world’s first emissions trading system for particulate pollution, the single greatest threat to human health globally, officials said.
It’s a market-based system where the government sets a limit on emissions and allows industries to buy and sell permits to stay below the cap.
The pilot programme launched on World Environment Day will be a model for the rest of India and the world as a means of reducing air pollution and facilitating robust economic growth.
It’s being launched in Surat, a densely-populated industrial centre where textile and dye mills release a significant amount of air pollutant, and is expected to drastically reduce air pollution at a low cost to both government and industry and provide best practices for replicating trading schemes to other emissions, an expert associated with the project told IANS.
About 350 industries around Surat have installed continuous emissions monitoring systems and now transmit real-time, high-quality emissions data. The scheme takes advantage of the technology’s modern, transparent approach to monitoring.
The Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) is carrying out the emissions trading programme with the help of a team of researchers, including Michael Greenstone and Anant Sudarshan from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).
The other researchers are Rohini Pande from the Evidence for Policy Design at Harvard Kennedy School, Nicholas Ryan from the Economic Growth Center at Yale University and from The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).
The researchers are evaluating the programme’s benefits and costs, relative to the status quo, using a randomised controlled trial.
EPIC Director Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in economics, said, “As one of the most sophisticated initiatives in the developing world, and the first globally to tackle particulate matters, Gujarat’s forward-looking vision has the potential to create lasting changes for the people living in this state, as well as become a benchmark for other states in India and countries across the world.”
The GPCB has a history of innovation that has often led the way for other states in India.
In 2015, it worked with the same research team to design, test, and based on the test results implement a new way of carrying out industrial pollution audits, fixing the incentive problem that occurs when third-party auditors responsible for testing plants on behalf of the regulator are also paid by these same plants.
As part of its commitment to effective and efficient pollution control, the emissions trading programME will be experimentally tested to understand its impacts on emissions, industry costs, and regulatory costs.
Globally, cap-and-trade systems have been used to reduce other forms of pollution, such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in the US.