Published on: June 2, 2021



What is the news : World bank recently conducted a research on impact of Black Carbon on Glaciers of Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu Kush (HKHK) mountain ranges.

Findings :

  • Black carbon (BC) deposits produced by human activity which accelerate the pace of glacier and snow melt in the Himalayan region can be sharply reduced through new, currently feasible policies by an additional 50% from current levels
  • Deposits of BC act in two ways hastening the pace of glacier melt: by decreasing surface reflectance of sunlight and by raising air temperature.
  • The rate of retreat of HKHK glaciers is estimated to be 0.3 metres per year in the west to 1.0 metre per year in the east. Black Carbon adds to the impact of climate change.
  • Full implementation of current policies to mitigate Black Carbon can achieve a 23% reduction but enacting new policies and incorporating them through regional cooperation among countries can achieve enhanced benefits

About Black carbon:

  • Chemically, black carbon (BC) is a component of fine particulate matter (PM ≤ 2.5 µm).
  • It consists of pure carbon in several linked forms.
  • It is formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass, and is one of the main types of particle in both anthropogenic and naturally occurring soot
  • BC is a short-lived pollutant that is the second-largest contributor to warming the planet behind carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • Unlike other greenhouse gas emissions, BC is quickly washed out and can be eliminated from the atmosphere if emissions stop
  • Some of the ongoing policy measures to cut BC emissions are:
    • Enhancing fuel efficiency standards for vehicles
    • Phasing out diesel vehicles and promoting electric vehicles
    • Accelerating the use of liquefied petroleum gas for cooking and through clean cookstove programmes
    • Upgrading brick kiln technologies

Data: Industry [primarily brick kilns] and residential burning of solid fuel together account for 45–66% of regional anthropogenic [man-made] BC deposition, followed by on-road diesel fuels (7–18%) and open burning (less than 3% in all seasons)