Curbing Black Carbon Emissions in India

GS-3 Mains 

Question : “Discuss the strategies employed by the Indian government to curb black carbon emissions, highlighting their effectiveness and potential challenges.

Black Carbon: A Serious Threat

  • Black carbon is a sooty material emitted during incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels.
  • It contributes to global warming, air pollution, and poses health risks.
  • It’s a major component of PM2.5 particulate air pollution.

Sources of Black Carbon in India

  • Residential sector (burning biomass for cooking): 47% (highest contributor)
  • Industries: 22%
  • Diesel Vehicles: 17%
  • Open burning: 12%
  • Other sources: 2%

Impacts of Black Carbon

  • Health:Linked to heart disease, birth complications, and premature death (over 6.1 lakh deaths annually due to indoor air pollution).
  • Environment:
    • Absorbs solar energy, warming the atmosphere.
    • Darkens snow and ice, reducing albedo and accelerating melting (up to 39% of glacier melt in the Tibetan Plateau).
    • Disrupts hydrological cycles and regional warming, impacting the Indian monsoon.
    • Contributes to Arctic amplification.
  • Climate Change:Second largest contributor after CO2, but stays in the atmosphere for shorter durations.
  • Air Quality:Reduces visibility, harms ecosystems, and lowers agricultural productivity.
  • Socio-Economic Impact:Increased healthcare costs and reduced agricultural yields.

Government Initiatives

  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY):Provides free LPG connections to low-income households, reducing dependence on traditional fuels.
  • Cleaner/Alternate Fuels:Introduction of CNG, LPG, and ethanol blending.
  • Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT):Setting up CBG plants to make cleaner fuel available.
  • Promotion of Agricultural Mechanization:Subsidies for farm equipment to manage crop residue and reduce open burning.
  • National Clean Air Programme:Aims for a 40% reduction in particulate matter by 2025-26.
  • Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME):Promotes electric and hybrid vehicle adoption.

Looking Ahead

  • Multi-pronged approach needed: clean cooking fuels, improved industrial processes, and public awareness.
  • Local production of compressed biomethane (CBM) gas from biomass composting offers a cleaner alternative.
  • Panchayats can take initiative for local CBM production to ensure clean cooking fuel access in rural areas.
  • India’s net-zero emissions pledge by 2070 at COP26 positions it as a leader in carbon neutrality.
  • Growing renewable energy capacity (over 180 GW by 2023, aiming for 500 GW by 2030) is another positive step.


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