Timely action could bring PM emissions down 35percent
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that Delhi's particle pollution could fall by 35% over the next 15 years if it manages to reduce emissions from the power sector, vehicles and biomass burning, including cooking with solid fuels in slums. IEA's World Energy Outlook 2016 report, which was released on Monday, has referred to an ongoing study commissioned by the ministry of environment to the National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). If these actions are not taken, Delhi's PM emissions will increase by 25% by 2030. "Traditional use of biomass for cooking and two coal-fired plants (Badarpur and Rajghat) are the two main sources of PM 2.5 emissions in Delhi," the report states. Rajghat is likely to be shut down soon. The Delhi government plans to convert it to a waste-to-energy plant. Scientists at NEERI who are working on the city's pollution problem said modelling studies were being done at IIASA to observe how various scenarios would impact Delhi's air quality between 2020 and 2030. The study will be published in about four months and could provide a road map for air pollution action in the capital, the scientists said.
"PM levels will come down if the government introduces BS VI norm by 2020. The power plants should convert to gas in the next couple of years and biomass burning for cooking or otherwise should stop to achieve a 35% improvement in PM levels by 2030," a NEERI scientist said. "Solid fuels are still being used for cooking in the slums. People should convert to LPG. The final road map will be available once our report is ready." This is the first time that Paris-based IEA, an autonomous organisation which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 29 member countries and beyond, has released a World Energy Outlook report on air pollution. It has flagged that around 6.5 million deaths globally are attributed to poor air quality making it the world's fourth largest threat to health after high blood pressure, dietary risks and smoking.
The report has some interesting observations on how India and China are tackling air pollution. It states that while emission levels have started to decline in China, there is "modest growth" in India. "In China, a strong policy focus on air quality bears fruit and the recent dip in pollutant emissions becomes a long-term trend: emissions of particulate matter are 40% lower by 2040 as energy consumption growth slows, the energy mix diversifies away from coal and strict pollution controls are enforced. "In India, the pollution outlook worsens to 2040 as energy demand rises by 150% although tighter standards in the power and transport sectors, the replacement of traditional cooking fuels with LPG and ambitious targets for wind and solar, all help to limit the growth in pollutant emissions to around 10%," the report says.