In Focus is a series of commentary and articles that takes an in-depth look at specific topics that are relevant to clean fuels.
In 2008, for example, nitrogen oxides (NOx) averaged 45 micrograms per cubic meter, higher than allowed under India's national air quality standards. Much of India's air pollution comes from diesel sources and construction dust, but not all of it.
"Petrol vehicles still release emissions, for example, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides," said Sophie Punte, executive director of CAI-Asia.
There are reasons why the country's air quality is declining. Fortunately, those same drivers also could lead to an improved situation.
The motorization index in India is currently about a tenth of developed regions like the U.S.A. and Europe but is climbing rapidly. The Centre for Science and Environment, an environmental advocacy group based in New Delhi, estimates that the Indian capital is adding 300,000 cars a year. For India as a whole, figures from CAI-Asia and others show that the vehicle population will more than double between 2005 and 2015, from 50 million to 125 million in 10 years.
Data from the New Delhi-based Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), a trade association, show that sales in 2009-2010 alone were 12.3 million, with three out of four vehicles being two-wheelers. The increasing number of vehicles results in more pollution, and emission standards will have to be tightened in the future to keep things from getting worse.