The core injustice of climate change is that the countries emitting the lowest amount of greenhouse gases are the most vulnerable to the consequences.
The United States, European Union, and Australia are some of the biggest contributors to climate change, and they aren’t making much traction in meaningfully cutting back their emissions to prevent significant damage, which primarily affect citizens in other countries.
However, they’re much more willing to take a stand when their own citizens are at risk.
According to a new air quality report from the World Health Organization, the most polluted cities in the world are disproportionately more likely to be from countries such as India, China, Bhutan, and Serbia. In other words, they’re the most likely to have microscopic, toxic particulates in the air—environmental conditions linked to respiratory diseases like asthma or lung cancer, and even conditions like heart disease.
Surprisingly, Beijing is not included in the top 50 most polluted cities, despite its reputation for life-threatening smog, according to an analysis from Greenpeace. This is thanks in part to an aggressive plan to reduce pollution. In fact, 62 Chinese cities saw their air particulate levels dropped by an average of 30 percent between 2013 and 2016. Topping the list of most polluted cities are Gwalior, Kanpur, Faridabad, and Allahabad, which are all in India.
While China and India are significant emitters of greenhouse gases, it’s significant to note that their populations are among the highest in the world. Also, the industrial carbon emissions are often driven because countries like the U.S. outsource manufacturing to these locations.