To Slow Himalayan Glacier Melt, Curbing Air Pollution is Key

Melting Glaciers, Loss of Snow Pose Risks to South Asia Water Resources…

Climate change and air pollution are speeding up the melting of the Himalayan glaciers, jeopardizing the lives and livelihoods of 750 million people who rely on the water from these glaciers and snows. The impacts will only get worse unless greater efforts are made to curb black carbon deposits from factories, fires, and vehicles that are accelerating melting.

World Bank Group

Black carbon deposits originating from factories, cooking and vehicles are compounding the effects of climate change to speed up the melting of the Himalayan glaciers. More aggressively curbing black carbon emissions can slow glacier melt and improve the security of water resources in the region, according to a new World Bank report.

Current policies in place to reduce black carbon emissions – through enhancing fuel-efficiency standards, phasing out diesel vehicles and promoting electric cars – while laudable, will still reduce black carbon deposits by only 23 percent, not enough to prevent an acceleration of water releases from glacier melt in the region, according to Glaciers of the Himalayas: Climate Change, Black Carbon and Regional Resilience. However, new economically and technically feasible policies are within reach to contain glacier melt at current levels.

For example, improving the efficiency of brick kilns, which account for roughly half of black carbon emissions, would reduce melt-accelerating deposits, and modest up-front investments that would quickly pay off are available. Cleaner cookstoves and cleaner fuels are another key way to reduce black carbon emissions. Incentivizing households to switch from biomass or coal to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and, in the long run, to solar energy could achieve this.

By Mehreen Sheikh

World Bank: Jun 03, 2021
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