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.)