As black carbon and non-CO2 gases are not limited by borders, it was proposed that the Five Himalayan countries Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, together with certain other global agencies, should form a collective to formulate and execute a joint strategy for mitigation of climate change in the Himalayas, in general, and tackling the emission of Black Carbon and other non-CO2 gases in particular. A joint strategy by the five countries will have tremendous advantages. It will ensure that there is an integrated, time-bound approach in tackling the issue with active involvement of other concerned International Agencies. In this regard, a workshop was organized by IUCN in partnership with GBPIHED, Uttarakhand Forest Department and Environment and Health Foundation, India on 17th September in Almora.
Issues of Black Carbon and other non-CO2 gases were discussed during the workshop and the Roundtable on Climate Change in Himalaya (RCCH) established. The participants included Dr. RBS Rawat PCCF, Uttarakhand, Dr L.M.S Palni, Director GBPIHED, Dr P.C. Maithani, Director, MNRE and Dr J S Rawat, Coordinator, P&C, IUCN India, along with various other experts from local NGOs, government organizations and institutes. Dr. JS Rawat discussed the various sources of Black Carbon, emissions of which scientists now believe to be second only to carbon dioxide (CO2) as a climate change agent. Black carbon is caused by incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, the major sources of which include shipping, vehicle emissions, coal burning and inefficient stoves for cooking– especially diesel and coal – as well as burning wood and other biomass.
Dr. R.B.S Rawat, PCCF, Uttarakhand briefed the participants about ecosystem vulnerabilities and mitigation of forest fires in Uttarakhand Himalayas. He briefly explained the key vulnerabilities of Uttarakhand which include erratic precipitation, cloud bursts, increased soil erosion, shift of species towards higher altitudes, increased tourism etc. He suggested that using pirul as fuel can not only reduce the emissions but will also save 5,000 tons of fuel wood every day, improve the carbon sequestration potential of the forests and enhance the livelihood of the local people.
Dr P.C Maithani, Director, MNRE suggested that the renewable energy options can significantly reduce CO2 emissions, for example, the emission reduction potential of the various renewable technologies is 266.5 million tons CO2, while only 45 million tons of emission reduction has been achieved. He gave an overview of the currently used biomass energy technologies in the country that have significant emissions of long-lived (CH4 and N2O) and short-lived (CO and non-methane hydrocarbons - NMHCs) greenhouse gases (GHG) and Black Carbon. He then discussed about the promising Advanced Biomass Energy Technologies (ABETs) which can significantly reduce the emissions and include technologies like direct combustion advanced stoves, gasifier stoves and biogas technology.
ESTABLISHMENT OF RCCH
The last session was an interactive session towards the establishment of the Roundtable. Dr. RBS Rawat and Dr Palni were declared as the chair and the co-chair of the Indian roundtable respectively, on mutual consent of the present dignitaries. Dr. RBS Rawat suggested that partners from the entire IHR should be identified and collaborative R&D carried out. It was also recommended that the traditional knowledge and culture should be honored in the region and guidelines for the Indian RCCH should be fixed as early as possible. The workshop was successful in increasing awareness regarding Climate Change and Black Carbon Issues in the Himalayas and was a positive move towards formation of a Roundtable for increased collaboration among key stakeholders.