Cutting Coal: Using coal significantly degrades air quality and its use will be banned in energy-intensive industries in the NCR with available PNG infra and supply. | Photo - Pixabay

Coal to be phased out of Delhi-NCR by Jan 1, 2023

In a significant development coal will be phased out from across Delhi and the National Capital from January 1, 2023. The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) imposed a coal ban across energy-intensive industries in the NCR from October 1 this year for regions where piped natural gas (PNG) infrastructure and supply is already available. In the regions where PNG is yet to arrive, the ban will come into effect from January 1, 2023, a statement by the CAQM said.

The independent statutory body said emissions from heavily polluting fuels like coal for various industrial, domestic and miscellaneous purposes contribute significantly to the degradation of air quality in the NCR and adjoining areas and accordingly a the consistent need has been felt to switch over to lesser polluting and cleaner fuel in the NCR. 

According to current estimates, 1.7 million tonnes of coal is used annually by industries in the NCR, and the fuel contributes significantly to the region’s air pollution levels. The ban excludes the usage of low-sulphur coal — a less harmful alternative with comparatively lower sulphur dioxide emissions.

Almost 40% of all Indians set to lose 7.6 years if pollution levels persist: EPIC study

About 510 million residents of north India are estimated to lose 7.6 years of their life if current air pollution levels persist, a study by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC)’s Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) flagged. While the average loss in life-expectancy across the country was about 5 years, higher pollution loads in the Indo-Gengetic plains are contributing to even more decreased life expectancies, according to the AQLI. 

Terming air pollution “the greatest threat to human life in the country”, the study also reported that about 44% of the world’s increase in pollution has come from India since 2013, making it the world’s second most-polluted country, only behind neighbour Bangladesh. Average annual particulate pollution in the country has increased by 61.4% since 1998, it added. While all of the country lives in areas that record pollution levels above the 5 microgram/m3 WHO standard for particulate matter, almost two-thirds of the country lives in areas that exceed the country’s own standard of 40 microgram/m3. 

EU backs ban on combustion-engine cars in 2035

In a big move against air pollution, the European Parliament is considering a proposed ban on selling new cars with combustion engines in 2035, seeking to step up the fight against climate change through the faster development of electric vehicles.

The European Union assembly voted in Strasbourg, France, to require automakers to cut carbon-dioxide emissions by 100% by the middle of the next decade. The mandate would amount to a prohibition on the sale in the 27-nation bloc of new cars powered by gasoline or diesel, AP reported. 

EU lawmakers also backed a 55% reduction in CO2 from automobiles in 2030 compared with 2021. This is above an existing obligation on the car industry to lower CO2 discharges by 37.5% on average at the end of the decade compared to last year.

Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based alliance, said the vote offered “a fighting chance of averting runaway climate change.”

NASA to measure Earth’s dust regions to help battle climate change

Nasa is set to launch a new mission to study the role that dust plays in Earth’s weather and climate systems. The instrument called EMIT – which stands for Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation – will be installed on the International Space Station, where it will study the movement of dust around the world, the BBC reported. NASA will also look at what minerals the dust is made of. The report said the scientists hope that this information will help them understand what effect dust has on the planet, on climate change, and on human populations.

Study: Natural sources of air pollution exceed air quality guidelines in many regions

A new study recommended a rethink of global air quality guidelines. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its air quality guidelines, lowering its recommended annual PM2.5 exposure guideline by 50%, from 10 micrograms per metre cubed (μm3) to 5 μm3.  A new study by the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering explored if the updated air quality guideline of 5 μm3 is realistically attainable globally, particularly if anthropogenic emissions are aggressively reduced. 

The study stated that eliminating fossil-fuel emissions would improve air quality around the world, but while compliance with the WHO will help some regions, for many others, such as India and Africa, high contributions from natural sources would impede their ability to meet that target.

The authors said over 50% of the world’s population would still be exposed to PM2.5 concentrations that exceed the new air quality guidelines, even in the absence of all anthropogenic emissions due to the large natural sources of particulate matter—dust, sea salt, and organics from vegetation—that still exist in the atmosphere when anthropogenic emissions are removed from the air.  

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