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Black Carbon Emissions UPSC NOTE

 What is black carbon and why is it harmful for the environment?

  • 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.

Which sector in India is the biggest contributor of black carbon? 

  • In India, the biggest contributor of black carbon emissions is the residential sector

  • This sector accounts for roughly 47% of the total black carbon emissions according to a 2016 study.

  1. Industries: Contribute around 22% of black carbon emissions

  2. Diesel vehicles: Contribute around 17%

  3. Open burning of agricultural waste: Around 12%

  4. Other sources: Contribute the remaining 2%


  • It's important to note that the exact contribution can vary depending on the study and the specific methods used. 

  • However, the residential sector consistently ranks as the biggest source of black carbon in India.

How has the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana helped in reducing the use of traditional cooking fuels?

  • In May 2016, the Government of India said the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana would provide free liquefied petroleum gas 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. 

  • The programme has provided connections to over 10 crore households as of January 2024.

  • However, in 2022-2023, 25% of all PMUY beneficiaries are 2.69 crore people.

  •  Availed either zero LPG refill or only one LPG refill, according to RTI data.

  • Means they still relied entirely on traditional biomass for cooking

  • The Hindu found in August 2023 that the average PMUY beneficiary household consumes only 3.5-4 LPG cylinders per year instead of the six or seven a regular non-PMUY household uses

  • This means up to half of all the energy needs of a PMUY beneficiary household are still met by traditional fuels, which have high black carbon emissions. 

  • A shortage of LPG and higher usage of traditional fuels also affect women and children disproportionately. 

  • They are more prone to higher levels of indoor air pollution, causing many health issues and leading to premature deaths.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Black Carbon Emissions UPSC NOTE
Black Carbon Emissions UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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