Cutting soot could slow global warming more than previously thought

• January 16, 2013

Smokestacks, Creative Commons: Matthew Parsons, 2009

Smokestacks, Creative Commons: Matthew Parsons, 2009

Black carbon – otherwise known as soot – has been ranked as the second-largest contributor to climate change, exerting twice as much of an impact as previously thought, according to new UN sponsored analysis.

The dangerous particles emitted from sources such as diesel engines, coal fired power stations and wood-fired stoves are now thought to have about two-thirds the climate impact of carbon dioxide. The UN have said that because black carbon only lasts in the atmosphere a matter of days – compared to carbon dioxide’s atmospheric endurance of centuries – addressing it could be prime target for curbing global warming.

According to Dr. Piers Forster of the University of Leeds’ School of Earth and the Environment, “There are exciting opportunities to cool climate by cutting soot emissions, but it is not straightforward. Reducing emissions from diesel engines and domestic wood and coal fires is a no-brainer, as there are tandem health and climate benefits. If we did everything we could to reduce these emissions, we could buy ourselves up to half a degree less warming – or a couple of decades of respite.”

Although cutting carbon dioxide emissions is widely recognised as the only long term solution to prevent catastrophic climate change, tackling black carbon too could have a swift impact on rising global temperatures and bring major health benefits – helping to reduce the occurence of choking smog that has engulfed China over the past week and save millions of lives lost to acute respiratory illnesses each year.

Read More: The Independent>>

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About the Author

Karl Burkart is the Digital Communications Director for the GCCA, the Global Call for Climate Action, and TckTckTck, a network of 400+ diverse organizations working around the world for greater action on the growing problem of climate change. Karl also blogs on technology and the environment for a variety of publications. You can follow him on Twitter @greendig.

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