Reducing the amount of ice in the mountains raises concerns about the water supply needed to operate hydroelectric power plants, which play an important role in both countries’ plans to reduce carbon emissions to zero.
This is reported by Eco-Business, citing a report by a group of Chinese and European scientists.
The researchers surveyed Parlung Glacier No. 4 in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, selecting it for its size and other characteristics that allow it to be used as a benchmark for tracking changes in the ice mass due to climate.
According to them, the ice of the Hindu Kush is warming twice as fast as the average global warming. Over the past 10 years, temperatures here have risen by 0.32°C against the global average of 0.16°C.
Since 1990, Parlung No. 4 has been shrinking by about 30 centimeters per year, according to the report. Since 2000, the amount of snowfall during the wet season on the glacier has decreased by 26%.
Parlung No. 4, along with other glaciers of the Hindu Kush, feeds the Brahmaputra, one of the largest rivers in South Asia, which flows through the territory of 10 countries, including China, India, Pakistan and Nepal.
Hydroelectric projects on the Brahmaputra should help China and India move towards carbon neutrality.
However, the rapid melting of mountain ice and monsoon rains that have become unpredictable due to the climate can first flood hydroelectric dams, and then lead to a constant shortage of water for stable generation.
In 2021, China generated about 1.3 thousand terawatt-hours of electricity from hydropower, and India – one tenth of this amount. Both countries plan to become carbon neutral – China by 2060 and India by 2070.
Although the low-carbon performance of hydropower has been questioned, it continues to be an important component of both countries’ renewable energy sources.
According to a model developed by the National Development and Reform Commission of China, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the country’s electricity production will double to 14.8 thousand terawatt-hours, of which 14% will be generated by hydropower.
Meanwhile, India hosts the world’s largest hydropower pipeline. It plans to increase its current 52 gigawatts of hydropower capacity by almost 200% by 2032 by adding projects with a total capacity of 91 GW.
Thus, it is very important for both countries to use the energy of the Brahmaputra.
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