In early April 2020, citizens in Delhi woke up to a pleasant surprise. Just a few weeks into the lockdown, the air was cleaner, the visibility was higher.
Due to the mandatory lockdown imposed across the country, 88 Indian cities observed a similar drastic reduction in air pollution, as per an independent study, and the AQI improved 44%, 33%, 29%, 15% and 32% in north, south, east, central and western India, respectively. This kind of improvement was seen in other countries as well, but with the reopening of the economy the temporary gain was lost due to retaliatory emissions.
The temporary gains of 2020 raises the question of how far India is from the sustainable development targets for 2030 or the Paris Agreement signed in 2015. While there have been several independent developments in this area through policy and new ideas, the role of tech startups is also becoming more prominent — be it cleantech solutions or renewable energy platforms or the rise of electric vehicles, or even the green initiatives announced by other consumer startups (ecommerce, delivery). But in reality much more needs to be done.