Lockdown slashed air pollution. Can we sustain the gains?

Pollution, Air, atmosphere, temperature, climate change
Instead of doubling down on green development goals, India has gone ahead and undone some of the good work of the past | Image - Eunice Dhivya

Looking back, the otherwise back-breaking lockdown due to COVID-19 that led to widespread chaos and suffering had one big upside. There was significant fall in air pollution across major cities in India, thanks to near-zero transport and industrial emissions. Considering that air pollution is the fifth major killer in India, that was an extraordinary outcome.

There was yet another bonus too. There was a drastic fall in temperature across all meteorological regions in India. In many cities known for their scorching summer heat, there was no heat wave and the maximum temperature didn’t cross the 40 degrees Celsius mark.

The average fall in urban temperatures across North India and Deccan plateau region was to the tune of 5–8 degrees in different cities.

Considering that the countries were wrangling among themselves even to agree upon a Paris target of 2 degrees Celsius cap on temperature rise through CO2 emission control, and that too by 2030, this was nothing short of a miracle, albeit a short-term one.

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