Contrasting Air Quality Strategies in New Delhi and Beijing Post-Diwali

“India’s Post-Diwali Smog Spotlights Stark Air Quality Contrast with Beijing,” says the Global Times. Despite Beijing’s marked improvement in air quality with lower PM2.5 concentration and clearer skies, New Delhi faces heightened pollution levels post-Diwali, ranking as the world’s most polluted city. The toxic haze prompted the suspension of schools, urging the public to avoid fireworks, but defiance prevailed.

Experts note a shift in Chinese netizens’ attitudes, with few comparisons drawn between Beijing and New Delhi’s air quality. This apparent disinterest reflects confidence in China’s air quality progress, achieved through robust efforts. Conversely, India’s government faces organizational challenges, limited mobilization, and execution capabilities, along with inadequate public participation, prompting calls for strengthened international cooperation on air governance and pollution control.

Despite warnings, Diwali celebrations exacerbated India’s air pollution crisis. Swiss company IQAir’s ranking revealed New Delhi’s hazardous air quality index (AQI) at 407, Mumbai at sixth with an AQI of 157, and Kolkata at seventh with an AQI of 154. The AQI in New Delhi peaked at an alarming 680.

BBC’s report explores why New Delhi lags behind Beijing in addressing air pollution. China’s effective actions, driven by political determination and public pressure, contrast with India’s challenges stemming from poor infrastructure, energy production, and economic limitations. Long Xingchun, a professor at Sichuan International Studies University, emphasizes India’s economic constraints as a fundamental issue.

China’s progress in air quality faces occasional setbacks, such as the late October “medium pollution” episode. The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Economy and Information Technology updates emergency response plans, showcasing ongoing efforts to combat air pollution, including measures for manufacturing enterprises.

Zhang Yuanxun, a professor at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, highlights evolving air governance priorities. He emphasizes the need for strategic shifts, such as altering industrial structures and transitioning to cleaner energy sources. Future challenges include addressing poor air quality exacerbated by global climate changes and extreme weather events.

Experts propose enhanced China-India cooperation on air pollution, with New Delhi learning from Beijing’s experience. China’s impressive achievements, marked by a 57% drop in PM2.5 concentration despite a 67% GDP growth from 2013 to 2022, position it as a model for developing countries, recognized by the UN as a “Beijing Miracle.”

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