NASA data puts Russia and China next on polluter list
For the first time in four years, India’s sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions have fallen significantly by around 6 % in 2019 compared to 2018, the biggest drop in four years, according to a report by Greenpeace India and the Energy and Clean Air Research Center (CREA).
- However, India remains at the top of issuers for the fifth consecutive year. The report ranks the world’s largest emitters of SO2, a toxic air pollutant that increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and premature death.
- In 2019, India emitted 21% of the world’s anthropogenic SO2 emissions (of human origin), or about 5,953 kilotons per year, or nearly double that of the world’s second-largest emitter, Russia, at 3,362 kt / year. China was third with 2,156 kt per year.
Thermal power plants
- According to the report, the biggest emission hot spots in India are thermal power plants (or groups of power plants) at Singrauli, Neyveli, Sipat, Mundra, Korba, Bonda, Tamnar, Talcher, Jharsuguda, Kutch, Surat , Chennai , Ramagundam, Chandrapur, Visakhapatnam and Koradi. Renewable energy capacity has increased in India’s electricity sector, providing more than two-thirds of the subcontinent’s new capacity additions in fiscal year 2019-2020.
- But most coal-fired power plants in India do not have flue gas desulfurization (FGD) technology, which is required to clean up sulfur emissions.
- “We are seeing a reduction in SO2 emissions in the three main emitting countries. In India, we are seeing how reduced use of coal can affect air quality and health. In 2019, renewable energy capacity increased, reliance on coal decreased and we saw a corresponding improvement in air quality, ”Avinash Chanchal, climate activist at Greenpeace India, said in a statement.
- “But our air is still far from sure. We must accelerate the energy transition from coal to renewable energies, for our health and our economy. As we ensure a just energy transition, with the help of decentralized renewable sources, we must prioritize access to electricity for the poor, ”he added.
- In 2015, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF & CC) introduced SO2 emission limits for coal-fired power plants. But the plants missed the original deadline of December 2017 for the installation of the FGD units.
- Although the deadline has been extended to 2022, as of June 2020, most power plants are operating in non-compliance. The sulfur emissions data were obtained from NASA’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI), a satellite device, which has been monitoring air quality from space since 2004.
- The Device provides the geographic location and emission rate of hot spots for each calendar year.
- The catalog makes it possible to group the sources detected into four categories; a natural category (volcanoes) and three anthropogenic categories; power stations, oil and gas, and foundries.