A rainbow was sighted on a rainy evening in Delhi last week, seemingly a sign that better days are round the corner. The beautiful view, complemented by clear skies and fresh air, is a rare sight in a city notorious for its high levels of pollution. The dip in pollution levels seems to be the norm in places where lockdowns have been imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus and is one of the few positive consequences of the pandemic. Air quality has improved drastically in the past few weeks owing to the decrease in industrial as well as vehicular emissions.
In these times of uncertainty, it is encouraging to see a substantial drop in emissions all over the world. Air pollution in India has fallen by 71 per cent since the lockdown was announced. Since March, carbon emissions have dropped by 7.5 per cent and 58 per cent in the US and the European Union, respectively. In China, CO2 emissions were down by 18 per cent between early February and mid-March. The near shutdown of the airline industry has also led to an over 30 per cent decline in CO2 levels. This lockdown-induced fall in pollution is also linked to lowered severity in the effects of the coronavirus. As per a research produced by Harvard researchers, higher levels of pollution aggravate the symptoms of COVID-19 (since it is a respiratory ailment) and increase the possibility of death. Now, the world is breathing a little easier, but can this be sustained?
Sukanya Nambiar is Research Intern at CPPR. Views expressed are personal and need not reflect or represent the views of Centre for Public Policy Research.