Carbon Emissions Drop in India For First Time in Four Decades
In a surprising turn of events, India’s emissions have dropped for the first time in four decades. The current coronavirus lockdown has opened up ways to drop carbon emissions in India. Reduced electricity usage and competition from renewable energy resources had decreased the demand for fossil fuels even before the pandemic hit the world.
Anyhow, it was the sudden nationwide lockdown in March that ultimately put the country’s 37-year emissions growth into reverse.
Environmental website Carbon Brief has analysed that Indian carbon dioxide emissions fell 15 percent in the month of March, and are likely to have dropped by 30 percent in the month of April. This analysis was based on the daily data from the Indian national grid.
Nearly all of the decline in power demand has been borne by coal-fired generators, which explains the reason behind the sudden and drastic emissions reductions.
The study has also revealed that in the fiscal year ending March 2020, coal deliveries were down by around 2 percent, a small yet significant decline. An increase in thermal power generation of 7.5 percent a year set over the previous decade.
Indian oil consumption demonstrates a similar reduction in demand growth. It has been slowing since early 2019. Oil consumption was down 18% year-on-year in March 2020. And now this trend has been stronger than ever amidst the impact of coronavirus lockdown measures on the transport industry.
Meanwhile, the supply of energy from renewable resources has increased over the year and has been high since the pandemic hit the country. However, this increase in the demand for renewable energy is not limited to India only.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) published figures at the end of April, according to which the world’s use of coal was down 8 percent in the first quarter of the year. By contrast, wind and solar power witnessed an uptick in demand internationally.
Be that as it may, the analysts warn that the decline in fossil fuel use may not last. It is believed that when the pandemic subsides, there is a risk that emissions will soar again as countries try to get their economies back on track.
However, the analysis from Carbon Brief suggests there are reasons to think India could buck this trend. As renewable energy resources have an economic advantage in India, offering far cheaper electricity than coal.
Environmentalists hope the clean air and clear skies Indians have enjoyed since lockdown will increase public pressure on the government to clean up the power sector and improve air quality.