SEI Contact:

Fiona Lambe

fiona.lambe@sei-international.org

Mobile: +46 73 707 8595


Time-frame: 2010–2013

Climate and health-afflicting “Brown Air” in northern India: evaluation of sources, advice on mitigation options and advocacy for action (Indian Brown Air)

Evidence has emerged in recent years that black carbon (soot) from fossil fuels and biomass is second only to carbon dioxide in contributing to climate forcing, and its effects on sensitive areas such as glaciers is even more pronounced. Black carbon resides in the atmosphere only for 1-2 weeks, whereas carbon dioxide remains for hundreds of years. Consequently, major reductions in black carbon emissions can have immediate climate benefits, both regionally and globally. The burning of biomass is a major source of black carbon emissions, especially in India, which has the world’s greatest concentration of traditional biomass users due to high population density. Burning biomass in traditional stoves (open-fire three-stone “stoves” or other stoves of low efficiency, often with little ventilation) emits smoke containing large quantities of harmful pollutants which cause serious safety and health problems, including respiratory illness from indoor air pollution.

The three year long India Brown Air Project sees collaboration between SEI, Stockholm University, Department of Applied Environmental Science (ITM); Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Centre for Rural Development and Technology and Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology. Recent research conducted by ITM confirms that a key Black carbon source is likely to be woodfuel combustion for household heating and cooking, a daily practice for over 800 million Indians. While Stockholm University will focus on enhancing Knowledge of the source contributions of Black Carbon through taking careful atmospheric measurements in the Delhi area, SEI will be responsible for conducting a Socio-Economic Evaluation of Household Cooking Practices to provide tangible results on feasible options and expected benefits of upgrading household cooking fuels and equipment. SEI will also lead on the policy outreach component of the project.

The Stockholm Environment Institute has been conducting socio-economic, environmental and policy analysis on biomass and household energy for over thirty years. The most recent research included the development of a methodology for evaluating the economics of household energy choices and its application in three African countries (link to HHEA project page). For the Indian Brown Air Project, SEI will apply a similar approach and/or model in India to understand the factors determining household fuel and stove use in this region and their wider policy implications. The tremendous scale and dominance of the Indian household energy sector makes it an important element in global policy activities. By using its international network of policy partners, the SEI will bring the research results from this project into this new high-profile international forum.

The SEI work package includes three main elements: (1) A baseline assessment of household energy options in New Delhi: this assessment is based on assembling the key characteristics of household energy use and establishing a profile of the available options. (2) A stated preference survey for a selected set of households: this survey is based on knowledge of the options available and provides some evidence on the willingness of households to change to more efficient options. (3) Outreach/advocacy with the relevant Indian government officials and also with Indian as well as international groups working on biomass and household energy: the outreach outputs include policy briefings to Indian and Swedish ministries, publications, a number of Delhi seminars, and outreach through selected international meetings.

Project Partners:
Stockholm University Department of Applied Environmental Science (ITM);
Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (Centre for Rural Development and Technology); and
Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.

Funded by: Sida (Partner Driven Cooperation)

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