Economic Slowdown May Lighten India’s Carbon Burden

There’s a silver lining to India’s economic slowdown. Carbon dioxide emissions are poised to grow at their slowest — a 2% rise from last year — since 2001, according to an analysis published in Carbon Brief, a site that tracks emission and carbon dioxide trends. The rise in C02 emissions from India sees wild swings — from 7.7% in 2014 to 3.5% the next year and then back to 7.8% in 2018. This is the first time that emissions are expected to grow below 3% from the previous year. “Our analysis, based on data from various Ministries responsible for electricity, coal, oil, gas and foreign trade, shows that emissions increased by 2% in the first eight months of the year, a lower rate than any annual increase since 2001,” said the research note by Lauri Myllyvirta, an energy and pollution analyst with the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air and Sunil Dahiya, analyst and campaigner with GreenPeace East Asia. Mr. Dahiya told The Hindu that though the analysis was restricted to August, the remaining months were unlikely to change the year’s trend. “Coal generation trends are unlikely to change given the lack of demand and the contribution of renewables. “Slower growth in coal-based power generation will also benefit the country’s air quality efforts, as essentially all coal-fired power plants lack pollution controls commonly required in, say, the EU and China,” the analysts projected. Industrial coal use fell dramatically in 2017 because of a slowdown in the construction sector and bounced back in 2018. “The combined total of coal sales from state-owned mines to consumers outside the power sector and imports of coking coal and coke fell 14% in 2017 and rose 15% in 2018. But it increased by just 3% in the first eight months of 2019,” the analysis noted. Wind generation rose by 17% in the first six months of 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier, with solar up 30% and hydro increasing by 22%. Last year, a report by the International Energy Emissions Agency said India’s per capita emissions were about 40% of the global average and contributed 7% to the global carbon dioxide burden. The U.S., the largest emitter, contributed 14%. As per its commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, India has promised to reduce the emission intensity of its economy by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. It has also committed to having 40% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

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