Ill-sooted: Emissions from South Asia have contributed to a massive increase in the black carbon deposits in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan range | Photo: Down to Earth

If South Asian countries implement emission norms, black carbon deposits on Himalayan glaciers can reduce by 23%: Report

Black carbon (BC) released from incomplete burning of petrol, diesel, coal and biomass, including wood and crop stubble, is getting deposited on Himalayan glaciers and it can be brought down 23% if South Asian countries implement the emission norms, said a new World Bank Group report. Black Carbon reduces the light- and heat-reflection capacity of the snow, making it melt from the increase in temperature because of the absorbed heat energy. This accelerates the melting of snow and glaciers. Scientists said BC is responsible for as much as 50% of the increase in glacier and snow melt worldwide.

They said the glaciers in the Hindu Kush, Himalayan and Karakoram ranges are retreating at a rate of 0.3 metre per year in the western regions, and one metre per year, three times faster, in the eastern regions. Glaciers in the Mount Everest region might reduce by 39-52% by 2050, states the study.

Experts pointed out that glacier melting in the Himalayas and erratic rainfall in the mid-mountains always lead to landslides, floods and inundation in the lowlands.

Delhi moves top court seeking closure of 10 polluting coal power plants 

The Delhi government moved the Supreme Court seeking closure of 10 coal-fired power plants near the city using outdated polluting technology. The thermal power plants located in Punjab,  Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have been polluting Delhi-NCR, environment minister Gopal Rai said.

Rai said the Centre refused to help in the matter so have asked the Supreme Court to direct closure of these plants on an urgent basis. The 10 power plants are Dadri NCTPP, Harduaganj TPS, GH TPS (Lehra Mohabbat), Nabha TPP, Ropar TPS, Talwandi Sabo TPP, Yamunanagar TPS, Indira Gandhi STPP, Panipat TPS and Rajiv Gandhi TPS.

Meanwhile, new research has revealed that 11 coal-fired power plants in the National Capital Region contributed just 7%  to Delhi’s PM2.5 pollution on an average between October 2020 and January 2021, while vehicles contributed 14%.

A 2018 study by TERI said over 60% of the PM 2.5 pollution in Delhi originates from sources outside the city. The Centre had amended rules allowing thermal power plants within 10km of the NCR with more than 10 lakh population to comply with new emission norms by the end of 2022.

Fourteen new pollution hotspots identified in Delhi

Local pollution sources have added 14 new pollution hotspots in the National Capital region of Delhi, a Centre For Science and Environment study found. The new hotspots recorded PM2.5 concentrations higher than Delhi’s hazardous winter average of 186 micrograms per cubic metre. The new locations registered a higher seasonal average than the mean of the recognised hotspots, that is, 197 micrograms per cubic metre. The study identified Nehru Nagar and DTU as the most polluted among the 14 emerging locations. Experts called for intense micro-planning and region wide action at scale. In 2019, the state and central pollution control board had identified 13 pollution hotspots.

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee along with the National Green Tribunal conducted raids against pollution units in the pollution hotspots and sealed two units engaged in bottle cleaning and water packaging in pouches.

Satellite data reveals global spike in NO2 levels a year after first Covid-19 lockdowns

A year after the first COVID-19 lockdown, the levels of toxic NO2 have bounced back globally, a new Greenpeace study based on satellite images revealed. Scientists said lockdowns cleaned air temporarily during the first half of 2020, but now we must implement long-term solutions to keep the air safe and clean regardless of how much we move around our cities. Wind and solar energy and clean transport solutions are often more cost-effective than fossil fuel alternatives, the study said. 

Research showed that South Africa’s Johannesburg saw the most dramatic increase in air pollution relative to pre-Covid conditions. NO2 pollution fell by approximately 30% in April 2020, but pollution during the same period in 2021 exceeded pre-pandemic levels by 47%. Similarly, in Bangkok and Jakarta, NO2 had returned to pre-Covid levels one year after initial lockdowns. Although all cities saw NO2 pollution rebounds in April 2021, in some cities, including Los Angeles and Wuhan, NO2 pollution remained below pre-COVID levels.

India, China counted maximum number of deaths from PM2.5 emitted from burning coal in 2017: Global study

A new study of the sources of air pollution in over 200 countries found that the world could have averted 1.05 million deaths by eliminating fossil-fuel combustion in 2017. The study stated that more than half of the 1.05 million deaths were because of PM2.5 emitted from burning of coal that year.

According to the study published in Nature Communications, the largest number of deaths in 2017 due to PM2.5 occurred in China and India. Complete elimination of burning coal, as well as oil and natural gas, in China and India could reduce the global PM2.5 disease burden by nearly 20%, the study said.

The study used the GEOS-Chem tool, which divides Earth’s surface into 30-by-36-mile blocks and allows each square to be analysed individually. This combination of emissions and modelling helped scientists to identify different sources of air pollution – power, oil and gas and dust storms.

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