You’ll have heard various climate change fanatics call for lockdowns to be used to reduce carbon emissions – because they worked so well to curb the spread of COVID-19! Well, it’s starting. India’s Supreme Court is calling for a lockdown in New Delhi because of a “health emergency”. But the “emergency” is not due to COVID-19. It’s due to air pollution. NPR has more.
At a hearing Monday, justices ordered authorities to halt all nonessential travel on roads in the national capital region. They also told them to close offices in the area, shifting tens of millions of people to work from home.
It’s unclear if or when such a lockdown would take effect, or how long it might last. Delhi’s air quality appeared to ease slightly Monday. The AQI is now in the low 400s on a 500-point scale. Last week, it was off the charts in some areas.
Delhi’s Chief Minister has indicated his willingness to impose a pollution-related lockdown but has said it would have minimal effect without similar measures from neighbouring states. Officials from the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh plan to hold meetings Tuesday.
New Delhi’s schools are already closed this week because of air pollution that’s been about four times the safe limit. Construction sites are also on pause, which will ultimately slow the economy.
This is all because of toxic smog across much of northern India. It happens every winter as industrial and vehicular emissions mix with smoke from crop-burning after the harvest.
While farmers have often been blamed for exacerbating the pollution problem, government lawyers told the Supreme Court on Monday that crop-burning amounts to only about 10% of emissions. One justice responded by saying it might be even lower.
Some of the schools forced to shut this week had only just reopened for the first time in nearly 20 months, because of COVID-19.
Worth reading in full.