tv Inside Story 2019 Ep 309 Al Jazeera November 5, 2019 8:32pm-9:00pm +03
people raced to save their belongings after the fire broke out on the roof of the popular balogun market in lagos a crowded market stalls prevented firefighters from reaching the building for more than an hour. for you and these are live pictures from johannesburg airport where south africa's rugby world cup champions have returned home to a hero's welcome 3 days now since they beat england 3212 in the final in japan everyone they're still waiting though for to see a clearly see the 1st black captain to lift the trophy hoping he'll be arriving shortly. in the meantime we've got inside story for you.
it's being cold apocalyptic india is suffering unprecedented levels of their pollution with warnings of consequences for people's health but what exactly is causing pollution there and across the region and what's being done to tackle this is inside story. but i want to welcome to the program i'm darren jordan india's top coach says new delhi's choking every year and blames the state government for failing to cut pollution the problem is so bad schools have been shut flights diverted and a public health emergency declared some experts say breathing the city's a is as bad as smoking 50 cigarettes a day and that's not just in the capital the world health organization says 13 other indian cities are mung the world's 15 most polluted reports now from new
delhi. this brown haze has enveloped new delhi anything above 400 on the city's quality index is considered very severe it. has does have people it is bad every winter but this is the 1st time the government has declared a public health emergency. this to shut 3 says he doesn't like. that it's necessary. the reason i'm wearing a mask has increased pollution i don't have any illness but i cough. in the last 4 or 5 days my nose is watering my eyes are burning. children and the elderly are especially at risk says she suffers a heart condition and the pollution has forced her to go to hospital. i have
a cold a cough and my chest hurts since pollution increased everything hurts now. doctors say because of the toxic small they have treated 5 times the usual number of patients over the past few days some people living in india's national capital say it's become a gas chamber the state government is alternating the days pass can be driven on the roads between those whose registrations and. evil but. behind me is the iconic. opera's events house it's a tall building but today one can barely see it the government has taken the step to have the number of possible recalls on the street that should reduce air pollution a little but as long as farmers keep burning stubble in neighboring states yeah pollution is expected to continue to be very severe in new delhi. in the adjoining states of punjab and haryana have harvested their rice and now need to clear their
land for their winter wheat crop burning is the quickest way environmentalists say that needs to change but i think at the end of the day farmers need to sort of put pressure on the government to ultimately provide markets that are needed to shift away to other crops but pharmacy if they are to change their practices and invest in clean up technology and machinery they need support from the government that's on top of it tackling other sources of pollution meaning those hoping for cleaner air are unlikely to have immediate relief. al-jazeera. well joining me now are guests in new delhi kartika nessun a research fellow at the council on energy and environment and water on skype from helsinki laurie lead analyst on asia at the center for research on energy and clean air and in bangkok faisal parrish director of the global environment center he's
a specialist on fire and haze prevention that's a problem that malaysia faces every year a warm welcome to you walt cuts a guinness in the new delhi let me start with you if i may because that's the ground 0 of this problem i mean the air quality in new delhi is now being described as apocalyptic i mean why has the situation become so dangerous and how big is the scale of the problem briefly. so the good part is we've actually gone past apocalypse and it's actually improved in some sense today and thanks largely to the fact that the meteorology sort of played in favor of me and if you if you look at the situation that's currently there it's there for 2 reasons one is that i think the meteorology over the last 2 or 3 days has been really unfavorable that is like a big part of it but more importantly i think we anticipated that you know the emissions that actually. were do right now would not reach the proportions that
they have and the fact that you know it would not combine so neatly with the meteorology and unfortunately that activity in the streets of delhi goes on as it would other ways and people don't really have a sense of the fact that you know it is really lethal to be the ed and that's the tribes most tragic but really so a lack of preparedness even though sort of ordinary when was declared even a month ago with regard to sort of emissions from other sources open with burning or even if it's sort of ensuring that all the vehicles that are playing on the road have the emissions certificates in place or regulating industrial emissions rate all of that i think. was not a state doesn't should have been and then suddenly when it struck we were left with really no options let's bring in laurie amount of each other in helsinki i mean laurie governments and their policies can't really depend on meteorology come in and you're an expert on air pollution across asia why is india got it so wrong and what's behind this latest pollution crisis do you think absolutely recon depend on
the weather or what we can depend on is that every winter india gets these weather where you have a slow moving air moss moving across the north india applying collecting pollution from industries power plants was holes burning and there will be hazardous small unless you had dress those emissions if you look at the challenges that the indian government has had in implementing its policies one of their most depressing examples is the regulation open missions from bar plants that were supposed to already comply with new emissions standards before this winter but the government and apart from south being dragging their feet and also diluting some of the standards the reason that i bring this up is that with our clients you're dealing with a few dozen sources whereas with farmers or households you're dealing with millions so this it should be one of the easiest places to start but there are of course
tradeoffs and there is opposition from those people who have to foot the bill for these measures size all perished in bangkok filemon how critical is the issue of vehicle emissions because india may not have the strict vehicle emissions standards we see in north america and europe said you think car rationing will solve the problem i mean we're talking about new delhi having something like 10000000 cars i mean that's really hard to police and it. it's difficult and that's why i think the government is looking at this alternate days changing trying to reduce the numbers but it is a challenge and it's difficult to police that in such a dense city as new delhi. kartik going to send back there in new delhi i mean how much do you think india's rapid economic growth under prime minister narendra modi may have been a contributing factor to this pollution crisis and is the environmental impacts an inevitable consequence of economic growth and trying to pull millions of people out
of poverty. i think that's a good question of course is undeniable the deli sits in a place which is susceptible to air pollution in the winters every year but as you rightly said in the last decade or so this issues of course become very prominent daily was one of the 1st cities in the country to espouse a compressed natural gas c.m.g. for its entire fleet of public vehicles and a large share of our taxes in order to close the flight here and that was to address the pollution that you know it was seen from take a look lucian back in the ninety's in the late ninety's and the change in the regulation happened so and it is implemented at a scale that is sort of wanted entered even by european standards so in that sense delhi has recognized the problems and sort of a gesture at that point but what happened is that the subsequent growth that is witnessed primarily diesel vehicles and the rampant sort of you know i guess the destruction of the natural habitat so there are really mountains that sort of surround delhi have been degraded over time so that allowed for more dust to sort
of really come in from the desert that delhi sits right next to us and that is really added to the problem i don't think it's a i don't think it's correct to attribute this to the last 5 years of this of the of the government that's kind of clean place it's something that's accumulated over time. but the fact that you know different administrations sit at the center of the state and at the you know at the city level does not really help either because then they're sort of it's a bit of political jugglery where each party is blaming the other for inaction and every time something goes well at the state or take credit when in reality i think the meteorology is probably the one thing that's worked in favor of of getting the at all let's little rock i think it's really a combination of the fact that there's not been a clear political muster let's bring it back laurie melody jeffrey can i mean laura you extensively researched china's coal consumption and carbon dioxide trends are there any similarities between the causes and effects of air pollution in india and
china and why the situation has become so dangerous in new delhi. india seen rapidly rising coal consumption and old oil consumption in the past decade very similar to what china experienced up to earlier this decade and that is definitely a part of why the problem has been so hard to seoul there has been progress on the on some sectors but a lot of that gets offset by the rapid increase in oil costs coal consumption and oil consumption what china has managed to do in the last 5 years he's to bring down the levels of pollution significantly and that happened by putting a stop to the increasing coal consumption and then actually even dramatic improvements in that pollution control technologies that are used in coal fired power plants and factories and so on but it will be very hard to do this ok the technology on the other 10 percent
a year or 5 percent per year increase in india underlying use of dirty energy will perish in bangkok i mean we're being told that one major causing the pollution in new delhi is farmers in neighboring states like put in job in haryana burning crops stubble to clear their fields i understand you're an expert in this sort of thing how big an issue is crop burning and how do you then deal with farmers whose crops up pretty much their livelihood. so we have a lot of experience in southeast asia with this in fact the burning of agriculture land for preparation of agricultural land is one of the main sources of the large scale trans boundary haze we have in southeast asia that affects more than 6 or 7 countries and sometimes the smoke cloud cover several 1000000 square kilometers so it is a major economic environment and health impact in this region and the government has been trying to address it on a range of fronts and making some success they've identified which are the most
critical areas of burning or what type of land create the largest amount of smoke contribution and that is burning and degradation of people and system their weapon system which has a very high amount of organic material and when the fires there create. massive smoke clouds and so basically the government has moved to ban the further development in these areas working with the farmers small holders large scale companies private sector to introduce best management practices era burning practice has been practiced for the last 1520 years by large scale plantations and governments are really working to bring that down through initiatives and incentives to small holders by giving incentives or financial and other incentives for 5 days 3 villages that they call let me just take the take the debate back to laurie millet in helsinki because kartik in new delhi was talking about the government initiative of car rationing and driving cars with odd and even played
some different days in other countries like mexico have used similar car rusting schemes and we know that china brought in a scheme for the olympics back in 2008 to reduce pollution in beijing and apparently they had the best air quality in a decade what lessons do you think india can learn then from china's success at improving a quality in that sense the measures taken into capital such as new delhi and beijing are things that. that's the most attention but what china has really done well is addressing pollution from the entire region surrounding beijing. up to hundreds of kilometers away beijing is surrounded by hundreds of plants it's the region in the world that produces the most steel so that dressing that industrial sector has been by far the biggest challenge and of course addressing coal fired power plants new delhi is in are very intelligent position because it's a city surrounded by areas with with dense of millions of people with factories
with kwame households all of those emissions and it's very limited the city is very limited in what what it can do within its own boundaries. and in no way talking about new delhi small go on delhi's mold is a misnomer because we're talking about a small that extends hundreds of kilometers all the way from one job to west bengal and what we really need to see in india is action on that regional level not just putting delhi alone on the spot because it's impossible for the city to solve this alone most of the coalition there is coming from outside the city all right gentlemen stay with us if you will because i want to broaden this out across the region 99 of the world's 100 most polluted cities are in asia that's according to a report last year by visual and greenpeace it also found that half of the world's 50 most polluted cities are in india $22.00 in china and the rest in pakistan and
bangladesh in indonesia the problem is even worse the capital jakarta is now ranked as the most polluted city in southeast asia followed by vietnam's capital hanoi when air pollution reached alarming levels in southeast asia where a toxic haze blanketed large parts of malaysia and singapore farmers in indonesia were blamed again for burning stubble to make way for new crops and the world health organization estimates around $7000000.00 people die each year from brain. being polluted in more than 90 percent in low and middle income countries mainly in asia and in africa let's just bring back our guests here kartik connection in new delhi so i mean these figures. i watering up they you know the world health organization estimates 7000000 people die a year from breathing toxic air 90 percent of those deaths in poverty stricken areas of asia africa why is asia as a region blighted so much by this quickly. i think the even though the facts may
suggest that 7000000 people a day across the world and in fact 1100000 of those in india if you walk down the streets of delhi or you know which is the most impacted you will not find too many people actually aware of this you will find that most people walk around without a mask so we're not yet there were beijing got to when it came to you know people's awareness and everybody wearing masks and walking around and sort of you know putting the government under siege when it comes to acting on this in improving the quality of laves so that realisation has not dawned on them and i think that is the most fundamental part of being able to address this issue because that has to be a public demand and an outcry saying that i want better quality and that's just not happened because there are a host of issues that governments need to resolve and we focus on infrastructure creation and jobs and economic growth but on the way and we've just basically let this by the way say and i think that's really where the fundamental problem is and unlike the case of china and southeast asia where you know we've got these large sources that you know do the sort of relieving production in the case of delhi and
much of india it's a combination of sources that really result in what we have so delhi does not see the kind of germs that you know jakarta would see but transport emissions aren't doing that sort of that big it's it's a 4th of may be living under the 4th so i think that's also the big challenge that you know it's really a multitude of sources which means that the responsibility of actually tackling air pollution is not just with one agency but it's a multiple one spread across and in a democratic system when you have so many people coming together to work on air pollution it's not that easy to dissolve but the it has to start with the public making a clear case for why they need to why air quality needs to be improved and that needs to figure out in the way they want to we'll come back to you in a 2nd just to respond to what kartik was saying there but let me bring it back fires will perish because you're an expert flies or on fire and has prevention yet every year in the nation of farmers a blame for causing this toxic haze that drips across large parts of indonesia malaysia and singapore what do. does this happen why can't these 3 governments
prevent what is effectively an annual crisis i mean it has been going on in various scales for the last 2025 years the big problem that we have is that we have a special type of ecosystem called people an ecosystem a natural ecosystem which stores up to 10000 tons of carbon perfect let's just pick us up with laurie miller a lot of them and you specialize on the impact of air pollution across asia can it be measured in health terms as well as in the cost of the economy and absolutely we know from studies that have compared. the life expectancy the risk of many d c c's for people living in. cities with clean air and those with polluted air that the risk of diseases like lung cancers troll. heart attack and so on it goes up in polluted air in fact the entire global life expectancy shortened by
about 11 months because of air pollution and of course a disproportionate part of that takes place in the most polluted places most of its which are in asia so it is a major public health issue and an economy issue i'm fine so let me ask you here because i mean just reading through some of these pollution reports they seem to be saying there's a clear link between such as like poverty blow income population growth that dictates toxic levels of air pollution so is this all about where you are on the economic scale that decides the quality of the air that you breathe. i mean it's not just the way you are i mean it's also where you are physically in relation to the high fire prone areas which are in the region and in the prevalent wind direction where they are downstream of these a major fire prone areas it's also driven a lot by also larger scale not just small scale burning but long. scale burning
related to fire spreading into plantation and forest land which the government is really struggling in this region the southeast asia to deal with and it's a big issue across the indian subcontinent and this is where we need a much broader innovative approach to bring in new incentives to address and prevent large scale burning and give proper incentives for good land management practices and reward measures that which prevent the use of fire and encourage long term crop development without fire on a car to going to send in new delhi i mean it's not just about vehicle emissions is it demean the world health organization says 3000000000 people that's 40 percent of the world's population still don't have access to clean cooking fields and technologies and that's of course the main source of household pollution. absolutely i mean that's and that's a great point that you make and i think there's going to been a bunch of studies that have basically said that 30 percent of all particulate
matter pollution that comes old rate is actually coming from our house was burning biomass and that is something we can escape from but this government has done a fantastic job in india as far with the predominant would you allow your journal where they have basically gone ahead and given of free l.p.g. connection for the people who can't afford it below the poverty line and for others you know at a very subsidized rate so sort of enticing them toward from the use of bio mass in cooking and moving to l.p.g. which is not quite petroleum gal who's barking and given to households and that definitely will improve the you know the experience of women and children in these households for sure and at the end of the day will also contribute to improving equality in the ambien but that is sort of like a long term strategy in the sense that people need to sort of start seeing the value but at the end of the day to something that it's a commodity that they want to be paying something for firewood in many parts of the country still free some people do spend on it but they don't quite realize that the tradeoff in terms of spending that money on l.p.g.
can have positive impacts for their health and at the end of the day you can also end up saving them some money because you know they're not falling so often and the fact that you know the entire family is healthier so that transition will have to happen slowly ok final parish in bangkok a final thought from you given the scale of india's pollution can it be fixed or is it too little too late do you think definitely these things can be fixed but it needs political will it needs a broad based approach and it needs not just focusing on the vehicles in the city but in the large scale agricultural development around giving real incentives to farmers for maybe changing crop diets or changing approaches supporting mechanization and other incentives to reduce the this annual large scale burning which is actually not good not only for health but it's bad for the agricultural land it decreases the productivity if you burn it better you keep the organic material and improve the productivity in situ laurie merely peter in helsinki can asian governments turn this around do you think
a do they have the financial clout and b. do you think they have the political will to radically reduce pollution. what we we've seen across the world in beijing and i would say delhi many other asian couples is that when the middle class grows when people start to worry more about their health declines in a body or pollution goes up and the political pressure goes up i definitely expect to see governments at cross taking more action one thing to ask in group in india is the level of data and access to data so that we can know track progress and point out where progress is happening and where not and i believe that data available soon is also going to speed things up all right gentlemen it's a fascinating debate but time is against us we have to leave it there thanks to all our guests concert going to happen in new delhi. in helsinki and finally paris in bangkok thank you all and thank you too for watching you can see the program again
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