Addressing the issue of Black Carbon Emissions

Addressing the issue of Black Carbon Emissions

Context: According to a 2016 study, the residential sector contributes 47% of India’s total black carbon emissions followed by Industries 22%, diesel vehicles 17%, open burning 12%, and other sources 2%. 
 Decarbonization efforts in the industry and transport sectors in the past decade have led to reductions in black carbon emissions. However, the residential sector remains a challenge.

What is Black Carbon?
 Black carbon, commonly known as soot, is a component of fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5). It is formed by the incomplete combustion of wood and fossil fuels, a process which also creates carbon dioxide (CO₂), carbon monoxide, and volatile 
organic compounds.
 Most black carbon emissions in India arise from burning biomass, such as cow 
dung or straw, in traditional cook stoves.

Health and Environmental Impact:
 Black carbon causes human morbidity and premature mortality due to its adverse effects on respiratory health.
 It contributes to air pollution and has implications for climate change.

Climate Forcing Agent:
 In climatology, black carbon is a climate forcing agent that contributes to global warming. It warms the Earth by absorbing sunlight and heating the atmosphere.
 When deposited on snow and ice, it reduces their albedo, further contributing to warming.

How PM Ujjawala Yojana addresses the issue?
Entitlements: The scheme would provide free liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to households below the poverty line. The programme has provided connections to over 10 crore households as of January 2024.
Objective: To make clean cooking fuel available to rural and poor households and reduce their dependence on traditional cooking fuels.
Infrastructure: The PMUY has established infrastructure for LPG connections, including free gas stoves, deposits for LPG cylinders, and a distribution network.
Impact: It has helped in reducing black carbon emissions because it is a cleaner alternative to traditional fuel consumption.

Issues with scheme:
 According to RTI data, in 2022-2023, only 25% of all PMUY beneficiaries availed either zero LPG refill or only one LPG refill. It reflects households continue to rely on traditional biomass for cooking.
 High cost of cylinder means people shift to traditional sources such as cow dung and firewood.
 Lack of last mile connectivity in LPG distribution network.

What are the other ways to reduce black carbon emissions?
Efficient Combustion Technologies: Upgrade diesel engines, smokestacks, and residential heating systems to more efficient models.
Shift to Renewable Energy Sources: Transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. This reduces emissions from power plants and industrial processes
Strict Emission Standards: Enforce stringent emission standards for vehicles, industries, and power plants. Regular monitoring and compliance checks are essential.
Urban Planning and Transportation: Promote public transport and cycling to reduce reliance on individual vehicles. Implement green infrastructure and urban forestry to absorb pollutants.

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