[Answered] Evaluate the significance of black carbon emissions on environmental health and climate change, with a focus on India’s challenges and strategies in reducing emissions from the residential sector.

Introduction: Contextual Introduction

Body: Impact of black carbon on health, climate change & challenges &strategies to deal with it.

Conclusion: Way forward

Black carbon or BC, emitted during incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels, contributes to global warming and health risks. Exposure to black carbon is linked to heart disease, birth complications, and premature death. In India, the majority of black carbon emissions come from burning biomass 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%.

Environmental Health Impacts

  • Air pollution: One of the main causes of air pollution is black carbon, which can cause cardiovascular illnesses, respiratory issues, and even early mortality. India has some of the world’s most polluted cities, and part of the problem is Black Carbon emissions.
  • Reduced Visibility: Elevated levels of black carbon can cause a major reduction in visibility, which can have an adverse effect on both general quality of life and transportation safety.

Impact on Climate Change

  • Heating of the Atmosphere: Black carbon warms the atmosphere by absorbing solar energy, hastening global warming. Even though it doesn’t last as long as CO2, it has a big immediate impact.
  • Melting of Glaciers: The deposition of BC on snow and glaciers lowers their reflectivity, or albedo, which speeds up melting. Sea levels are increasing as a result of this, endangering water supplies. A key worry is the effect on the Himalayas, which provide India with a vital supply of water.

Challenges for India’s Residential Sector

  • Burning biomass: In India, burning solid fuels for cooking and heating, such as firewood and manure, is a major source of BC, especially in rural areas.
  • Brick Kilns: Due to incomplete coal combustion, traditional brick kilns are one of the main sources of BC emissions.
  • Lack of Knowledge: Adoption of cleaner techniques may be impeded by a lack of knowledge regarding the health and environmental effects of BC emissions.

Strategies for Reducing Black Carbon Emissions

  • Promoting Cleaner Cooking Solutions: Shifting towards cleaner burning LPG stoves and biogas plants can significantly reduce BC emissions from households. Eg, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) provides free liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to households below the poverty line. Encouraging local production of coal-bed methane (CBM) gas by composting biomass at the village level, can ensure every rural household access to clean cooking fuel.
  • Public Awareness Campaigns: Educating the public about the health and environmental consequences of BC and promoting cleaner alternatives is essential.
  • Promoting Cleaner Energy Sources: Encouraging the use of renewable energy sources like solar power for domestic needs can significantly reduce reliance on solid fuels.


There is urgent need to prioritise black carbon reduction through initiatives such as the PMUY scheme that can help India become a global leader in addressing regional health concerns and help meet its Sustainability Development Goal of providing affordable clean energy to everyone and contributing to global climate mitigation.

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