Selective application: The power ministry, under R.K Singh, has advocated for a further watering down of emission norms for thermal power plants | Photo: Saur Energy

Power ministry proposes weakening emission norms for thermal power plants

India’s power ministry has issued a memo to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Chnage (MOEF&CC) proposing a review of the new emission norms for coal-fired power plants. The memo cites “an unworkable time schedule” that would burden utilities and lead to an increase in power tariffs.

India’s original 2017 deadline for compliance with the new emissions standards and the installation of Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) units was pushed to 2022. Under the latest proposal, no new dates have been set. However, a final decision will have to be approved by the Supreme Court, which is hearing the issue.

Bengal purchases dirtiest coal-based power generated in India: CSE study

According to the assessment done by a Delhi-based NGO, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), only 42% of the coal being bought by states for power generation is through “cleaner” power plants that comply with the new sulphur dioxide emission norms. It found that West Bengal topped the list of states that buy the dirtiest coal-based power generated in the country. Most of the stations supplying electricity to the state have not taken adequate measures to comply with the December 2015 SO2 emission norms notified by the government. Besides West Bengal, Telangana and Gujarat led the list of nine states that procure their coal-based electricity from unclean sources.

Air pollution increases risk of pregnancy loss in India, south Asia: Lancet study

Pregnant women in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, who are exposed to poor air quality, may be at higher risk of stillbirths and miscarriages, according to a modelling study published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal. The study was conducted for the period 1998–2016 for women who reported at least one pregnancy loss and one or more live births.

Researchers found that an estimated 349,681 pregnancy losses per year in south Asia were associated with exposure to PM2.5 concentrations that exceeded India’s air quality standard of 40 microgrammes per cubic metre (μg/m3) of small particulate matter (PM2.5). These account for 7% of annual pregnancy loss in the region from 2000-2016, they said.

Wildfire smoke contributes up to half of overall PM2.5 exposure in western US: Study

A recent study found that the contribution of wildfire smoke to PM2.5 concentrations in the US has grown substantially since the mid 2000s, and in recent years has accounted for up to half of the overall PM2.5 exposure in western regions as compared to a decade ago. It claimed that nearly 50 million homes are currently in the wildland-urban interface in the United States, a number that is increasing by 1 million houses every three year.

The researchers developed a statistical model that relates satellite-based fire and smoke data to information from pollution-monitoring stations. The model is combined with stylised scenarios to show that fuel management interventions could have large health benefits and that future health impacts from climate-change-induced wildfire smoke could approach projected overall increases in temperature-related mortality from climate change.

UNECE convention adopts guidance on nitrogen pollution

Parties to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution adopted a guidance document on integrated sustainable nitrogen management, aiming to address the pollution problems that nitrogen causes in the global biosphere. Nitrogen management is based on the premise that decreasing the nitrogen surplus and increasing N use efficiency contribute to abatement of NH3 emissions. The guidance aims to help governments and farmers reduce nitrogen waste into air and water and keep more nitrogen on farms in order to benefit food production, the economy, the environment, and human health.

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