Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fighting Smog in New Delhi, India

The NY Times reports about extremely highly levels of ambient air pollution in the growing city of New Delhi, India.   What is to be done?  My co-authored ADB paper, "Green Urbanization in Asia" offers some suggestions.   Here I want to list a set of possible feasible policy solutions.

1.  Is transportation growth to blame for New Delhi's pollution troubles?  Where are the coal fired power plants located?  If they are close by, have these coal fired power plants invested in scrubbers?

2.  What standards for oil refining has New Delhi introduced?

3. What share of vehicles have diesel engines?  They create more particulates.

4.  What is the age distribution of the vehicle fleet in New Delhi?  Could there be a vehicle registration fee that is higher for older vehicles?

5.  Could vehicle drivers face a different insurance cost depending on how many miles they drive each year? Those who drive less would pay less for insurance.

6.  What is the gasoline tax in New Delhi?

7.  How are parking prices downtown set?  Could they go up?

8.  How are commercial trucks regulated?  In Los Angeles, they produce a lot of the particulate matter.

9.  The Times article claims that much of New Delhi's pollution blows in from nearby unregulated areas.  This is similar to the Hong Kong "imports" complaint.  In New Delhi, is this true?  Why is the Coase Theorem failing? Given the per-capita income and the total population of New Delhi, why doesn't this city pay for pollution control equipment in the "exporting nearby" cities?

Once New Delhi makes some pollution progress, I will be happy to come visit and lecture about the joys of pollution progress.  If you are looking for a serious paper about environmental regulation in India, then read Greenstone and Hanna's paper.