The descent of choking smog on New Delhi in the last week cannot help but refocus India’s political attention on the contribution of coal-fired plants and roadside emissions to urban air pollution, even if nearly half of the recent incident was attributed to stubble burning from farmers by the country’s Supreme Court.
Whether the immediate impact of air pollution in China or longer-term concerns over climate change have been the biggest driver of Chinese environmental policy is a point of debate, but the combination has certainly been powerful. India now has a reminder that it needs to actually deliver on its ambitious renewable energy targets and plans for alternative transport.
The likely impacts will be to bear down on coal-fired power and redouble efforts to electrify and gasify transport and city energy use more broadly – in other words air pollution is positive for renewables and LNG demand but negative for coal and oil.
For a country expected soon to become the most populous in the world, and one which should benefit economically from its demographic dividend of young workers, India’s energy and environmental policies will become an increasingly important factor in global energy commodity demand, just as China’s have been over the last decade.
Upside oil factors
In the short term, positive news flow on the trade front is supporting oil prices as China and the US inch towards a phase one trade deal. This looks…