New Delhi: The Delhi government’s Transport Department and the University of Chicago Trust (UC Trust) on May 12 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate “an evidence-based approach to reducing vehicular pollution in Delhi”.
The partnership will also involve setting up a research unit to design innovative policy interventions, as per a press release by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, India (EPIC-India, that partners with numerous stakeholders to work on areas including electricity and markets).
Vehicular pollution and Delhi
Vehicular emissions – which produce pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter (PM, which can cause numerous health-related illnesses including respiratory issues) – are among the contributors to Delhi’s air pollution. On-road PM emissions consist of both exhaust and non-exhaust components (such as PM caused by wearing of tyres and brakes). Studies in both 2021 and 2022 by the Centre for Science and Environment found that among local sources, vehicles contributed to around half of Delhi’s particulate pollution in October-November (including Diwali week).
The MoU signed between the Delhi government’s Transport Department and the University of Chicago Trust (UC Trust) on May 12 aims to use data to design and develop policy interventions and solutions to curb vehicular pollution in the national capital.
Per the statement, EPIC India researchers will help the transport department to “leverage insights from advanced statistics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, data visualisation, use of satellite data, and econometrics, etc to improve the effectiveness of its existing programs, and design changes to improve them”.
“Apart from driving research that is evidence-based for policy innovation, evaluation, and capacity building, the cooperation will also facilitate knowledge exchange and high-quality data analysis,” the release said.
Working with the government
Researchers will also work with government officials to “enable knowledge exchange through seminars, workshops, or training sessions and carry out policy evaluation”, the release said.
“We are excited to work closely with the researchers from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago Trust in India (EPIC India) and incorporate the application of research and policy expertise with the foresight to generate new policy initiatives and solutions, alongside a rigorous evaluation of the transport department’s existing programs,” said Ashish Kundra, principal secretary at the government of Delhi.
“Having worked with governments around the world, including several state governments in India, for nearly a decade to advance evidence-based policymaking, EPIC-India is thrilled to contribute to these vital efforts to combat vehicular pollution and improve Delhi’s air quality,” said Michael Greenstone, Milton Friedman Professor in Economics and Director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.