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Remarks by Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson to a Meeting and Panel Discussion at the European Parliament on Black Carbon

Small Particle, Big Problem: the Emerging Link Between Black Carbon and Climate Change

Brussels, 22 June 2010—Graham Watson MEP and our chair; distinguished panellists, guests and friends,

I think it is a good and timely idea- less than six months before the next UN climate convention meeting- to take a long hard look at Black Carbon.

UNEP's involvement in this issue dates back some nine years when the former UNEP Executive Director, Klaus Toepfer, was taken up in a light aircraft over the Himalayas.

He and colleagues at UNEP were astonished by the photos taken that day—a bright blue sky; bright white ice caps and then this huge band of brown smeared across the mountain range.

Dr Toepfer immediately commissioned a study from the scientists concerned—researchers linked with what is known as the INDOEX experiment.

That report was launched in advance of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002.

The response was quite remarkable, both publicly and politically.

Publicly because the world's media latched onto the story with a frenzy rarely seen—indeed I was even fielding interviews from horse racing radio stations in places like Sydney Australia such was the interest.

Politically, because some nations in Asia felt UNEP was deflecting the responsibility for climate change away from the industrialized countries to the rapidly developing ones.

Despite this, UNEP's work on the science has continued through the UNEP-sponsored Project Atmospheric Brown Cloud work.

This is spearheaded by Professor Ramanathan at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California and Paul Crutzen, the distinguished Dutch Nobel Prize winning chemist.

This and the work of others is bringing the science to a point of maturity that can allow policy-makers to begin to act.

Black Carbon also falls within the wider debate on non-C02 pollutants, inspired in part by the success of the UNEP-hosted Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer.

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Further Resources

UNEP: Green Economy Initiative

UN Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)


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