World's Worst Air is in New Delhi

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on March 12, 2009

According to a new ranking by ECA International, New Delhi has the world’s worst air pollution. But don’t gloat, all you China boosters out there: Beijing is right behind India’s capital at No. 2. And there are four Chinese cities in the top twenty. Five, if you throw in Hong Kong, which ECA puts at No. 10, sandwiched between Guangzhou and Xian.

Fortunately, there’s some good news for Indians in the new report, since ECA puts Chennai at No. 6 on its list of cities that have made the most progress fighting air pollution in the past five years. Three of the top four on the most-improved list are Asian: Tokyo is No. 1 on that list, Taipei is No. 2 and Seoul is No. 4. (Sydney is No. 3.) Not to minimize the hard work that Japanese, Taiwanese and Koreans have put in to eliminate smog, but it’s no coincidence that they’re doing better at the same time China’s cities are doing worse. When you shift most of your low-end manufacturing to another country, chances are good that your air will get cleaner.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, Clearer Skies for Hong Kong in Year of the Ox?, we can now hope that one silver lining from the big downturn in China’s economy will be the disappearance of a lot of the worst polluters. The air in Hong Kong seems to be cleaner lately: Winter is often the worst time of year but we’ve had very few days where the smog is so thick you can’t see across the harbor. (Yes, it can get that bad.)

Reader Comments

Dante

March 13, 2009 5:03 PM

Or you can just wait until a bus pass by in Hong Kong and find your nose and lungs suddenly does not work. Or stand on the Great Wall in Beijing and see only the tower and nothing else. But did anyone do a study on polluted water? I'm curious which one comes out on top (or bottom depending on who's drinking the water).

Gloating

March 13, 2009 6:02 PM

Don’t gloat. Lol. Actually, sir, you should tell this to our Indian friends. It is them who are always laughing at our air qualities. Honestly, I can't even believe New Delhi is the No. 1. But I don't care. I hope they can take our population No.1 position asap.

KK

March 13, 2009 6:14 PM

Expected. When i lived there between 1997 and 1999 it is much worst. Even one day i didn't wear Jacket because of weather then my light color shirt change into Black color because of all sort of pollution in Delhi....

KK

Bo

March 13, 2009 11:16 PM

Yay! India finally beat China on something. Let's break out the champagne bottles and celebrate!

How about

March 14, 2009 4:33 PM

How about an article on World's Most Racist People..!!!

Let me answer that one..

AMERICA..!!

S

March 15, 2009 2:58 AM

Hurray !

India is number one in something at least !

greg

March 15, 2009 3:01 AM

A clear way to ensure that ever country in the world abides by limits set at the Kyoto agreement is to place an import tax on goods of countries that do not have carbon reduction programs in place.

The import tax on heavy pollution could then be fed into a worldwide research fund that produced ways to combat carbon emissions.

The reduction in greenhouse gases needs to be a global fix and it needs to happen immediately.

Every country must do its part to combat Global warming.

Mehul Kamdar

March 15, 2009 7:40 AM

It is interesting that in the run up to an election in India, no section of that country's media has chosen to focus on the very real problem of severe pollution of not just the air, but also water bodies and soil in the country. Neither have India's media professionals, in playing happy propagandists for the country's politicians, bothered to ask any real questions about what policies the politicians may have for the country's power sector (which has several shortages) and for the environment - if there is a more compliant media anywhere on earth, it must be in North Korea, with the difference being that India's media chooses to kowtow to the country's political bosses because that is what it wants to do and not because it is compelled to.

For a country that dreams of becoming the next superpower, India cannot even offer clean air to its leaders to breathe - the country's President and Prime Minister breathe in the same filthy air that its street urchins do. That alone suggests that the country is more sound than substance, a nation that lacks in what is most needed for it to become a power on par with more prosperous nations around the world.

RAJEEV JAIN

March 29, 2009 2:39 PM

Haryana govt reduced vat on diesel to 8.8% in june 2008 . As a result diesel in delhi became expensive as compared to haryana . Diesel sale in delhi has gone down by 30 % because of this. Smuggling of low quality diesel into delhi from haryana is rampant now a days. This is the main reason why delhi has once again gone down on air pollution standards

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Bloomberg Businessweek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies.

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