India’s carbon dioxide emissions have dropped for the first time in four decades, reflecting the impact of an economic slowdown from the coronavirus lockdown and a broader weakening of demand for fossil fuels on the subcontinent, experts say.
Researchers at Carbon Brief, an environmental website that tracks climate and energy policy, found that the emissions fell around 15 percent in March and likely dropped another 30 percent in April.
Lower electricity consumption during a nationwide lockdown, which started in March, along with a surge in competition among renewable energy sources, has cut demand for thermal power.
Coal-fired power generation, which is linked with higher air pollution, fell 31 percent in the first three weeks of April, according to government data compiled by Carbon Brief.
The supply of energy from renewables remained relatively stable during the lockdown, rising about 6 percent in March and dropping only slightly in April.
India is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases on the planet. Just five years ago, the country built a series of coal-fired power plants, more than doubling its capacity and drawing ire from climate activists.
But as the cost of solar power fell, the country canceled many coal projects, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledging that 40 percent of India’s electricity capacity would come from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.