What is black carbon, and why is it imperative to curb its emissions? Evaluate the effectiveness of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) in reducing black carbon emissions and improving air quality.


Prioritizing black carbon reduction with initiatives like the PMUY scheme addresses regional health concerns, ensures affordable clean energy for all (SDG 7), and contributes to global climate mitigation.


  • Introduce your answer by defining what is black carbon and mention its significant emissions in India.
  • In the main body, address the need for curbing its emissions by highlighting health risks, environmental degradation, climate impact, agricultural productivity, etc. Discuss PMUY’s success in transitioning over 10 crore households to cleaner LPG, improving health and environmental outcomes. Address challenges like affordability and adoption rates, underscoring the need for sustainable solutions.
  • Conclude by affirming PMUY’s importance in achieving India’s climate and health objectives.


Black carbon is a fine particulate matter formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass. It is a major component of soot, with a unique ability to absorb sunlight, making it a potent contributor to global warming and climate change. In India, a significant portion of black carbon emissions comes from the residential sector (47%), primarily due to the burning of traditional biomass fuels like wood, cow dung, and crop residue for cooking and heating, highlighting the urgency of transitioning to cleaner fuel alternatives.

Need to Curb Black Carbon Emissions:

  • Air Quality: Black carbon is a key component of particulate matter (PM2.5), contributing to the worsening of air quality. Urban and rural areas alike suffer from reduced visibility and the health impacts.
  • Health Impact: traditional cookstoves significantly contribute to indoor air pollution, posing severe health risks, especially to women and children.
    • Health problems, include respiratory issues, heart disease, and premature mortality.
  • Environmental Degradation: Black carbon is a major driver of climate change, capable of absorbing sunlight and heating the atmosphere. It also accelerates the melting of glaciers and snowpacks, affecting water resources and leading to negative impacts on agriculture and food security.
  • Agricultural Productivity: Soot deposition on plants can interfere with photosynthesis, reducing agricultural yields. This is particularly detrimental in a country like India, where a large portion of the population is dependent on agriculture for livelihood.
    • Research suggests that crops in black carbon-heavy areas witness a reduced yield of up to 40%.
  • Short-term Climate Change Mitigation: Black carbon’s short atmospheric lifetime means that actions taken to reduce its emissions can have immediate benefits for climate, health, and the environment.

Effectiveness of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY):

  • Introduction of Clean Cooking Fuel: PMUY has been instrumental in providing over 10 crore LPG (upto Jan, 2024) connections to low-income households, thereby reducing the dependence on biomass and other traditional fuels. This shift is a significant step towards reducing black carbon emissions.
  • Health Benefits: By facilitating access to LPG, PMUY has contributed to improving indoor air quality, which in turn reduces health risks.
    • A study showed a 28% reduction in respiratory issues among women post the adoption of LPG under PMUY.
  • Environmental Impact: The adoption of LPG as a cleaner cooking fuel helps in mitigating the environmental degradation caused by black carbon emissions. It contributes to clearer skies and cleaner air.
  • Challenges in Adoption: Despite the success in distributing LPG connections, a significant number of beneficiaries still rely on biomass due to high cost of LPG refills and availability issues.
  • Subsidy and Affordability: The government’s move to increase the LPG subsidy is a positive step towards making clean fuel more affordable for the underprivileged.
  • Exploring Alternative Solutions: such as, local production of coal-bed methane (CBM) gas could address last-mile connectivity issues and provide a sustainable source of clean cooking fuel, further reducing black carbon emissions.

The PMUY represents a critical component of India’s broader climate change mitigation and public health improvement strategies. Strengthening this initiative could significantly contribute to achieving India’s ambitious goal of net-zero emissions by 2070, enhancing the quality of life for millions, and setting a precedent for global environmental stewardship.

‘+1’ Value Addition:

  • Recent estimates indicate that mitigating residential emissions will avoid more than 6.1 lakh deaths per year from indoor exposure to air pollution.
  • On average, a PMUY household uses only 3.5-4 LPG cylinders annually, compared to the 6-7 cylinders utilized by non-PMUY households. Consequently, traditional fuels still fulfill up to 50% of their energy requirements.
  • Moreover, in 2022-2023, 25% of all PMUY beneficiaries availed either only one or zero LPG refi
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