India’s environment shaping up

Growing enthusiasm for coordinating reform could yield progress for India’s environment.

Anant Naik

India is often one of the first countries people think of when they think about pollution and environmental problems. Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index ranks India at 155 out of 178 countries — India is behind all developed countries and manages to beat out Chad and Yemen by just a small margin. Despite this, there could be a glimmer of optimism for India if it takes advantage of the opportunity it has.
 
India is on track to surpass China as the world’s most populous country by 2028. Thus, reducing per-capita waste is in India’s best interest. Recently, India told the U.N. it would cut carbon emissions and phase out harmful greenhouse gases. This marks a big move forward. With the climate talks in Paris rapidly approaching, India has the opportunity to present a legitimate plan to continue its development while reducing the resulting pollution that further drives climate change. 
 
It’s important that India actually follows through with its plan because the country faces many negative effects from self-created climate problems. For example, the smoke from cooking with wood or dung in many Indian homes causes 500,000 early deaths a year. 
 
By promoting renewable and cleaner energy sources, India can already take strong measures to combat the hazards it faces. In addition, many argue that building India’s energy infrastructure would create many jobs for people in construction and maintenance. 
 
In the coming decade, hopefully India can take an aggressive stance on climate change and make a meaningful impact. Years of “develop first, clean up later” should transform into “develop and clean up at the same time.”