New Delhi: During the coronavirus lockdown, the rare sight of clear blue skies is creating a sense of optimism among the public as well as policymakers that the air in India can be cleaned, if appropriate steps are taken, a recently published report by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) has highlighted that CO2 emissions, as well as air pollution levels, have declined massively in the country.
The report said that India’s CO2 emissions have fallen for the first time in four decades and it is the result of economic slowdown, growth of renewable energy and the lockdown impact which have led to a first year-on-year reduction in India’s CO2 levels.
Explaining the analysis in the report to NDTV, Sunil Dahiya, Analyst, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) said,
We started doing analysis from last financial year to see the positive changes in India’s air quality. We saw the decline in CO2 emissions already since early 2019 due to economic slowdown and increased used and dependence of renewable energy in the country. But it further steepened in March, due to measures taken to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
As per the report, India has seen demand slowing for coal and oil in the last 12 months and that has helped in CO2 emissions dropping by 1.4% in the last financial year. Whereas, March saw a 15 per cent reduction in Co2 emissions while the following month saw a 30 per cent reduction, courtesy countrywide lockdown because of the Coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown has further eroded demand for fuel, said the report. Highlighting the positives of the lockdown, Mr Dahiya added,
In the last few months, we have seen how the industries have shut, there is close to no vehicles on the roads. All this has lead to lower the air pollution and better the air quality in India and that is the reason we are seeing the beautiful sights of the blue skies.
India, which was earlier tagged as the world’s third-largest Co2 emitter has been in lockdown since the March 25. Talking about if the country can maintain the positives even after the lockdown is lifted, Sunil Dahiya added,
Once the lockdown is lifted, definitely there will be a change in the air and its quality. While the current crisis is having a significant impact on India’s CO2 emissions in the short term, it could also influence the longer-term trajectory of India’s energy use and emissions. The coronavirus crisis could act to catalyse, reinforce or accelerate th;e factors that have already been driving Indian policymaking in the cleaner air area. Seeing the positives of lockdown, if the government and policymaker can draft out plans, the air quality in India can continue to stay like this even once the lockdown is lifted and it will be interesting to see how this change and positives are maintained well.