In order to address the problem of growing industrial air pollution in Punjab, the Industry & Commerce and the Science, Technology & Environment departments on the ‘World Environment Day’, announced partnership with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) South Asia and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC India) to launch the use of an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The State Government would work with J-PAL South Asia and EPIC India to design and establish pollution markets in Punjab. The partnership includes providing technical assistance and capacity building to public officials to effectively use data and research evidence from established and functioning emissions trading market at Surat.
As a first step in this partnership, the State Government and the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) would also launch an ETS to regulate emissions from 200 dyeing industries in Ludhiana besides reducing particulate and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the state.
Elaborating about the partnership, Principal Secretary Industries & Commerce, Alok Shekhar, said, “The State Government is keen to combat environmental pollution through regulation that promises a win-win situation of cleaner production, coupled with lower compliance costs for industries. ETS is one such initiative that can help regulate critically and severely polluted industrial belts in Punjab.”
In his address, Prof. Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics, Director of EPIC and Co-Chair of Energy, Environment and Climate Change of J-PAL said, “Pollution reductions can be delivered – the world’s first ETS for particulate pollution in Gujarat has already shown this. Punjab is now becoming the second Indian state to adopt this pioneering vision. For various other Indian cities battling polluted air and expensive regulations, ETS has the potential to improve air quality and health, reduce the regulatory burden on industries, and decrease government enforcement expenditures.”
Notably, This initiative is part of an ongoing partnership between the Government of Punjab and J-PAL South Asia, wherein since 2017 J-PAL South Asia has worked with state departments to facilitate rigorous, policy-relevant research and the scale-up of successful programmes.
It may be recalled that ETS offers a market-based approach to reduce air pollution in which governments set a cap on emission levels and distribute emissions permits among firms. The approach involves using continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) to send real-time and continuous readings of particulate emissions and enable better and more targeted regulatory oversight standards.
A randomised evaluation conducted by J-PAL South Asia of the world’s first ever ETS for particulate matter across 350 highly polluting industries in Surat found evidence that the scheme offers a mechanism for improving air quality that is transparent and predictable. Moreover, it also has the potential to transform the trade-off between environmental regulation and economic growth by lowering compliance costs for firms.