SCIENCE IN UNEP

Blog of the UNEP Office of the Chief Scientist

Feb 6

Written by: Chief Scientist Office
Wednesday, February 6, 2013 

A monumental new 232 page article on the link between climate and black carbon in the atmosphere (commonly known as “soot”) has just appeared online in the Journal of Geophysical Research. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jgrd.50171/abstract) This new assessment provides strong scientific support for efforts to reduce emissions of black carbon. UNEP has argued for some time that reducing black carbon and other so-called “short-lived climate pollutants” such as methane would bring tremendous benefits – it would help slow global warming over the next few years, lessen regional climate change impacts, and reduce the drastic public health impacts of intensifying air pollution in developing countries.  (http://www.unep.org/publications/ebooks/slcf/Default.aspx).  

Science is now pointing the way to the most effective measures for reducing short-lived climate pollutants and this information has been taken up by the “Climate and Clean Air Coalition” which is promoting fast action to reduce emissions. (http://www.unep.org/ccac/About.aspx) The Coalition was launched in February, 2012 at a ceremony presided over by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  The Coalition began as a partnership between UNEP and six countries, but in just a few months has grown to 25 countries and 23 non-state partners.  

A final qualifier -- While the case for reducing short-lived climate pollutants sounds like a no-brainer, scientists are also telling us that reducing these pollutants will not be enough to slow down global warming over the long run.  To do so we still have to drastically reduce CO2 emissions.  So cutting black carbon emissions should go hand-in-hand with getting CO2emissions out of the economy. 


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