India’s rapid growth as a global economic power over the past decades came in tandem with a sharp, consistent rise in the country’s carbon emissions.
Now, for the first time in nearly 40 years, CO2 emissions are falling in India. While the coronavirus lockdown plays a role in the decline of emissions, electricity use and competition from renewables had weakened the demand for fossil fuels even before the coronavirus hit, according to an analysis by the environmental website, Carbon Brief. However, it was the sudden nationwide lockdown in March that finally tipped the country’s 37-year emissions growth trend into reverse.
The study finds that Indian carbon dioxide emissions fell 15% in March, and are likely to have fallen by 30% in April. Virtually all of the drop-off in power demand has been borne by coal-fired generators, which explains why the emissions reductions have been so dramatic. The expectation is that India will continue seeing a drop in emissions as renewable sources of energy are offering far cheaper electricity than coal.