In an attempt to fight coronavirus, India is under lockdown. On March 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a ‘Janata Curfew’. On March 24, he further imposed a 21-day lockdown in the country. Under the lockdown, only essential services are kept functional.
Weeks of lockdown have brought a significant reduction in levels of greenhouse gas emissions. People are able to breathe cleaner air and witness clear blue skies. However, experts believe that it is only a temporary phase. In the long run, it will not benefit the environment.
Recently, a report was released by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). It dealt with the effect of ‘Janata Curfew’ on the air quality. The report found out that the reduction in the number of on-road vehicles, resulted in a 32 percent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and up to 51 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels during March 22-23, 2020 as compared to March 21.
Environmentalists state that currently, a drastic reduction in carbon emissions may have been observed. However, levels will not remain the same once the virus threat mitigates. In a few weeks, it is likely to go back to the pre-corona levels.
Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace India, Avinash Chanchal, stated that emissions are a major cause of climate change. Amid the lockdown, the reduction of emissions has been resulted because of the drastic drop in the burning of fossil fuel with a reduction in industrial activities. Reduction in general traffic is also one of the reasons behind the same.
Director-General Indian Auto LPG Coalition, Suyash Gupta, shares similar opinions. He said that after a long time, many cities are breathing clean air. However, this shutdown cannot be expected to result in the stabilization of carbon dioxide concentration.
While discussing tackling the current crisis, Avinash Chanchal compared the COVID-19 crisis to the climate crisis. He said that similar to the corona crisis, climate crisis also affects society’s most marginalized and vulnerable people. He further adds that the COVID-19 outbreak can be used as a lesson to mankind. To tackle the climate crisis, the government will need to focus on a coordinated and consistent action plan, once the corona crisis is over. He believes that we need to focus on systemic and behavioral changes, to address the climate crisis.