In Brief: Reducing black carbon emissions could immediately reduce global temperature increases



[1] A new assessment by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that measures to reduce emissions of black carbon, or soot, which is produced through burning of wood and other biofuels as well as by some industrial processes, could improve public health and help to significantly reduce projected global temperature increases. The Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone highlights how specific measures targeting black carbon and other emissions from fossil fuel extraction, residential wood-burning cooking, diesel vehicles, waste management, agriculture, and small industries could affect climate. Full implementation of a variety of measures to reduce black carbon and methane emissions could reduce future global warming by about 0.5°C, the assessment found. Reducing black carbon could have substantial benefits in the Arctic, the Himalayas, and other snow-covered regions because black carbon that settles on top of snow absorbs heat, speeding melting of snow and ice. Black carbon emission reductions would affect global temperatures more quickly than carbon dioxide emission reductions. Furthermore, reducing black carbon emissions would improve public health in the regions that emit large amounts of the harmful air pollutant.