A recent study, conducted by Burney and Ramanathan, suggests that air pollution has a greater impact on Indian agriculture than climate change. Results from the study show that anthropogenic climate change caused 3.5% decrease in potential wheat yield at a country level from 1980 to 2010, while air pollution caused more than 32% decrease in potential yield. The main culprits – black carbon and ground-level ozone – are short-lived climate pollutants that have not only indirect effects on agricultural productivity through their impacts on temperature and precipitation, but also directly impact crop growth.
The impacts of such losses are severe: in 2010 alone, the wheat loss attributable to black carbon and ozone was over 24 million tons, corresponding to a value of approximately $5 billion. Therefore, the agricultural co-benefits from mitigating emissions of black carbon and ozone would be large having important food security impacts both domestically and internationally. Although these losses are significant, the good news is that immediate benefits can be seen as soon as action is taken.