Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Speaker Discusses Link Between Trade, Pollution

Shereya Jha of the World Bank linked trade liberalization to India’s increasing pollution rates on Thursday afternoon in the Car Barn. Jha presented her findings, extracted from an award-winning dissertation, to an audience of Georgetown students and faculty.

When India liberalized trade in 1991, the government opened 30 manufacturing categories to receiving foreign direct investment. Of these newly open industries, she said, the ones that produced the most and funneled the most foreign money were the industries that also polluted the most.

Jha attributed the boom of such industries to direct foreign involvement.

“If you have the removal of investment barriers in the country and if the country also has a weak environmental regime, then there will be a movement of investment from countries with more stringent environmental standards,” Jha said.

The process of investing in a dirty industry generates continuous pollution that is then dumped into India’s air and water supplies.

Jha distinguished “dirty” industries from “clean” ones. Dirty industries, she said, expel harmful byproducts into the water and air at an alarming rate. The top three dirty industries yield iron and steel, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, and petroleum-coal products, she said.

“It is not that India has weaker environmental standards than those of its major trading partners, it is rather that the implementation of these standards is much weaker in India,” she said.

Everybody in India wants clean water and air, Jha said, but the government has not regulated the industries that produce the largest volume of pollution. She said that the incentive to change Indian public policy and enforce pollution restriction will “come from the mobilization of citizens.”

She suggested expanding India’s environmental protection agency to include more employees that would visit and regulate factories.

Jha will present her study at the World Bank next week to encourage her colleagues to “make it mandatory to have environmental evaluations before providing aid.”

The Georgetown Public Policy Institute organized the forum in an effort to encourage Georgetown students to join the quantitative methods of public policy with the pressing global issue of environmental conservation.

“I think this study underscores the potential strength of quantitative methods to analyze public policy problems; and those can be domestic problems or international problems,” School of Foreign Service Professor Nathan Hultman said. “I really did appreciate Dr. Jha’s research approach which was a use of quantitative data which she had to search far and wide to get. That is the kind of study I like to encourage people to do because it can have a significant impact.”

Russell Meyer, the environmental chair at GPPI, agreed with the study’s academic significance.

“Understanding the issues of trade liberalization and the effects of opening markets to developing countries is important to Georgetown programs,” Meyer said.

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