India’s carbon emissions for 2020 are predicted to fall down by around 8% because of the coronavirus lockdown, a senior environment ministry official said on Wednesday, PTI reported.

“Due to the Covid-19 lockdown across India, carbon emissions are predicted to fall by around 8% in 2020,” said Sujit Kumar Bajpayee, joint secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. He was speaking at a virtual seminar organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry titled “Paradigm Shift in Business Sustainability Strategies to Meet the Challenges in the Post Covid-19 scenario”.

Bajpayee added that while the pandemic posed various challenges, it also provided a chance to focus on climate change. However, he also said that the impact of the pandemic was complex and would take years to analyse.

Our lives and livelihood depend on nature and the environment, he said, while emphasising the importance of biodiversity and the need to conserve natural resources.

Nature is essential for various industries such as construction, agriculture, food and beverages and is also a source for medicines, he said. “Such industries require direct extractions of resources from the forest or rely on ecosystem services such as healthy soil, clean water, and a stable climate,” Bajpayee added. “Due to many reasons we are losing species and many have gone extinct, which has disrupted the eco-system.”

A study published in the British journal Nature Climate Change in May showed that carbon dioxide emissions were down by 17%, or 17 million tonnes, in April around the world due to the lockdown. It also said that India had cut down its carbon emissions by 26% in the same month.

Scientists, however, had warned that the decrease in emissions would not do much to impact overall climate change, as it was “extremely small” compared to the emissions accumulated so far, and compared to the emissions cuts needed to tackle climate change.

In July, the United Nations had asked India to cut down its update and enhance its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It had said India could announce its strategy to reduce emissions at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on September 23.

In 2015, at the Paris Agreement, the world had decided to limit global warming to two degree Celsius below pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degree Celsius.