Thursday December 12, 2019

No Stop To Air Pollution in India, Reducing Dirty Fuels Need of The Hour

"Household fuels are the single biggest source of outdoor air pollution in India," said Kirk R. Smith, professor of global environmental health at UC Berkeley.

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"India has got to do other things to fix air pollution -- they've got to stop garbage burning, they've got to control the power plants, they've got to control vehicles and so forth. Pixabay

Mitigating the use of household fuels could reduce air pollution-related deaths in India by approximately 13 per cent, which is equivalent to saving about 270,000 lives a year, an India-US joint study has stressed.

Nearly half of the country’s population relies on dirty fuels such as wood, dung, coal and kerosene for cooking and heating, said researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and the India Institute of Technology-Delhi.

Eliminating emissions from these sources — without any changes to industrial or vehicle emissions — would bring the average outdoor air pollution levels below the country’s air quality standard.

“Household fuels are the single biggest source of outdoor air pollution in India,” said Kirk R. Smith, professor of global environmental health at UC Berkeley.

A study in the Lancet Planetary Health journal last year found that air quality in India is so poor that 1.2 million deaths in the country in 2018 can be attributed to air pollution.

“We looked at what would happen if they only cleaned up households, and we came to this counter-intuitive result that the whole country would reach national air pollution standards if they did that,” Smith added in a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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“You can’t have a clean environment when about half the houses in India are burning dirty fuels every day,” Smith said. Pixabay

The co-authors of the paper are Sourangsu Chowdhury and Sagnik Dey of IIT-Delhi, Sarath Guttikunda of Urban Emissions in New Delhi, Ajay Pillarisetti of UC Berkeley and Larry Di Girolamo of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

As of early 2016, nearly half of the Indian population was reliant on biomass for household fuel.

“There are 3,000 chemicals that have been identified in wood smoke, and taken at a macro level, it is very similar to tobacco smoke,” Smith informed.

In 2015, India’s average annual air pollution level was 55 micrograms per cubic meter (ug m-3) of fine particulate matter.

Levels in New Delhi often soared beyond 300 ug m-3.

Complete mitigation of biomass as fuel – which could be achieved through widespread electrification and distribution of clean-burning propane to rural areas – would cut India’s average annual air pollution to 38 ug m-3.

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A study in the Lancet Planetary Health journal last year found that air quality in India is so poor that 1.2 million deaths in the country in 2018 can be attributed to air pollution. Pixabay

While this is still far above the World Health Organization (WHO) standard of 10 ug m-3, it could still have dramatic impacts on the health of the people.

“You can’t have a clean environment when about half the houses in India are burning dirty fuels every day,” Smith said.

“India has got to do other things to fix air pollution — they’ve got to stop garbage burning, they’ve got to control the power plants, they’ve got to control vehicles and so forth.

“But they need to recognise the fact that households are very important contributors to outdoor air pollution, too,” he noted.

In 2016, India instituted a national programme to distribute clean burning stoves and propane to 80 million impoverished households, or about 500 million people.

Also Read: Biopic on PM Modi To Hit The Theaters Post The 2019 Elections Results

Smith hopes the findings would bolster support for reducing outdoor air pollution, as well.

Similar programmes have been successful in China, where air pollution is now on the decline in 80 cities. (IANS)

 

Next Story

Here’s how Carbon Footprint Can be Reduced in India

Carbon footprint in India can be reduced by 20%

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BY VISHAL GULATI

The report focuses on the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the two most carbon-intensive products — passenger cars and residential buildings.

Producing and using materials more efficiently to build passenger cars and residential homes could cut carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions between 2016 and 2060 by up to 25 gigaton across the Group of Seven (G7) member states, the International Resource Panel (IRP) finds in a summary for policymakers released here on Wednesday.

This is more than double the annual emissions from all the world’s coal-fuelled power plants.

The IRP finds that emissions from the production of materials like metals, wood, minerals and plastics more than doubled over the 20-year period to 2015, accounting for almost one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions.

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Majority of carbon-intensive products are used in manufacturing cars. Pixabay

It warns that without boosting material efficiency, it will be almost impossible and substantially more expensive to keep global heating below 1.5 degrees Celsius — the more ambitious of the two Paris climate targets.

The IRP Summary for Policymakers, Resource Efficiency and Climate Change: Material Efficiency Strategies for a Low-Carbon Future, prepared at the request of the G7, is the first comprehensive scientific analysis estimating total cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in homes and cars that can be achieved through material efficiency.

Together, the construction and manufacturing sectors are responsible for an estimated 80 per cent of emissions generated by the first use of materials.

Using strategies and technologies that already exist, G7 countries could save up to 170 million tons of carbon emissions from residential homes in 2050.

India could save 270 million tons, and China could save 350 million tons in 2050 in this same sector.

If we look at the full lifecycle of cars, material efficiency strategies could help G7 countries, China and India reduce GHG emissions by up to 450 million tons each in 2050. These reductions can help countries stay within their carbon budget.

Extending the lifetime of products, reusing components, substituting or using less material, and making more intensive use of materials by, for example, ride-sharing, are all strategies that G7 countries could implement today to tackle global warming.

“Climate mitigation efforts have traditionally focused on enhancing energy efficiency and accelerating the transition to renewables. While this is still key, this report shows that material efficiency can also deliver big gains,” UN Environment Executive Director Inger Andersen said.

The IRP finds that the carbon footprint of the production of materials for cars could be cut by up to 70 per cent in G7 countries, and 60 per cent in China and 50 per cent in India in 2050.

The largest emission savings from passenger vehicles come from a change in how people use cars, like car-pooling and car-sharing, and a move away from large SUVs.

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The construction and manufacturing sectors are responsible for an estimated 80 per cent of emissions generated by the first use of materials. Pixabay

The report also shows that greenhouse gas emissions from the production of materials for residential buildings in the G7, China and India could be reduced between 50 and 80 per cent in 2050 with greater material efficiency.

The most promising strategies include more intensive use of space e.g. reducing demand for floor space, switching out concrete and masonry for sustainably produced wood, improving recycling, and building lighter homes using less carbon-intensive steel, cement and glass.

Reducing demand for floor space in the G7 by up to 20 per cent could lower greenhouse gas emissions from the production of materials by up to 73 per cent in 2050.

Shared homes, smaller units, and downsizing when children move out lead to these big reductions.

The cuts revealed by the report are on top of emission savings generated by the decarbonisation of electricity supply, the electrification of home energy use, and the shift towards electric and hybrid vehicles.

Many of these emission reductions will only be possible if countries create enabling policy environments and incentives, the report says.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres wants countries to increase the ambition of their climate targets at the ongoing UN climate change negotiations (COP25) that entered its final stage in this Spanish capital.

Also Read- 86 Fashion Companies Partner with Political Leaders to Deliver Climate Action

The IRP report urges policymakers to integrate material efficiency into their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to set higher emission reduction targets that will limit the damage from global warming.

Currently, only Japan, India, China, and Turkey mention resource efficiency, resources management, material efficiency, circular economy or consumption side instruments as explicit mitigation measures in their NDCs. (IANS)