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Black Carbon

Black Carbon


At the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in November 2021, India pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070, positioning itself as a frontrunner in the race to carbon neutrality. While carbon dioxide mitigation strategies will yield benefits in the long term, they need to go hand-in-hand with efforts that provide short-term relief.

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Background of Black Carbon

Prioritising black carbon reduction through initiatives such as the PMUY scheme can help India become a global leader in addressing regional health concerns and help meet its Sustainability Development Goal of providing affordable clean energy to everyone and contributing to global climate mitigation.

About Black Carbon

  • Black carbon is the dark, sooty material emitted alongside other pollutants when biomass and fossil fuels are not fully combusted.
  • It contributes to global warming and poses severe risks. Studies have found a direct link between exposure to black carbon and a higher risk of heart disease, birth complications, and premature death.
  • Most black carbon emissions in India arise from burning biomass, such as cow dung or straw, in traditional cookstoves.
  • According to a 2016 study, the residential sector contributes 47% of India’s total black carbon emissions. Industries contribute a further 22%, diesel vehicles 17%, open burning 12%, and other sources 2%.
  • Decarbonisation efforts in the industry and transport sectors in the past decade have yielded reductions in black carbon emissions, but the residential sector remains a challenge.

Role of Govt:

  • In May 2016, the Government of India said the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) would provide free liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to households below the poverty line.
  • The primary objective was to make clean cooking fuel available to rural and poor households and reduce their dependence on traditional cooking fuels. The PMUY has established infrastructure to go with LPG connections, including free gas stoves, deposits for LPG cylinders, and a distribution network.
  • The programme has thus, been able to play a vital role in reducing black carbon emissions, as it offers a cleaner alternative to traditional fuel consumption.
  • However, in 2022-2023, 25% of all PMUY beneficiaries — 2.69 crore people — availed either zero LPG refill or only one LPG refill, according to RTI data, meaning they still relied entirely on traditional biomass for cooking.

Read also: UJJWALA Scheme

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