India’s carbon dioxide emissions fell for the first time in four decades as a combination of economic weakness and competition from renewable power limited consumption of fossil fuels.
Emissions likely dropped by 1.4% in the year ended March, thanks to slowing demand for coal and oil over the previous 12 months, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air analysts Lauri Myllyvirta and Sunil Dahiya said in a report Tuesday. Carbon dioxide releases plunged 15% in March and 30% in April from a year earlier, as a countrywide lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus further eroded fuel demand, the report said.
The pandemic could influence long-term energy planning in a country that’s the world’s third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide and heavily reliant on coal to drive its economic growth. Weeks of lockdown have eased India’s chronic air pollution, raising hopes of a more sustainable solution.
With declining prices of clean energy, a shift in the country’s energy mix is already emerging. India’s coal-fired generation fleet had an average utilization of 56% in the 12 months through March, the lowest in at least 15 years, power ministry data show.
“Any return of India’s poor air quality and smog can be expected to trigger a stronger response,” Myllyvirta and Dahiya wrote in the report.
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