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India loses $80 billion annually due to environmental degradation

India loses $80 billion annually due to environmental degradation
The annual environmental degradation cost of India is equivalent to 5.7 percent of the country’s G.D.P.

The annual cost of environmental degradation to India is around $80 billion, equivalent to 5.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to a new report by the international financing institution the World Bank.

The World Bank’s report, titled “Diagnostic Assessment of Select Environmental Challenges in India,” is the first-ever national level economic assessment of environmental degradation in the country.

Chief among the environmental problems in India that contribute to the total cost of environmental damage is outdoor air pollution, taking 29 percent of the total costs, followed by indoor air pollution at 23 percent, crop lands degradation at 19 percent, water supply, sanitation and hygiene at 14 percent, pastures degradation at 11 percent, and forest degradation at 4 percent.

Outdoor and indoor air pollution have the highest percentages that contribute to the high environmental degradation cost. This is because of the exposure to particulate matter pollution of the young and productive urban population. In addition, around 23 percent of child mortality in the country could be attributed to environmental degradation.

“Grow now and clean up later will not be environmentally sustainable for India in the long run. We believe that a low-emission, resource-efficient greening of the economy is possible at a very low cost in terms of G.D.P. growth,” said Muthukumara S. Mani, senior environmental economist at the World Bank and lead author of the report.

One of the solutions that the report suggests is to reduce particulate emissions by 10 percent by 2030, which will translate to a modest G.D.P. drop of only 0.3 percent compared to the G.D.P. of that of business as usual. When emissions are reduced by 30 percent by 2030, the G.D.P. will have a small drop of 0.7 percent, translating to around $97 billion, with very little impact on the growth rates.

The report emphasized that though the G.D.P. may experience a decline with either of the scenarios, the savings from reduced health damages range from $105 billion in the 30 percent scenario, to $24 billion with the 10 percent scenario is enough to compensate for the loss in G.D.P.

“This report suggests there are low-cost options that could significantly bring down environmental damage without compromising long-term growth objectives. The costs of doing this are not only affordable in the long-term but would also be offset by the significant health and productivity benefits,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank country director in India. – EcoSeed Staff

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