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Aggressive action to reduce soot emissions needed to meet climate change goals
Date:6/25/2010

te; sources that emit a greater amount of black carbon generally have a greater warming effect. Reducing emissions from low-sulfur diesel engines and industrial coal therefore has clearer benefits for the global climate than reducing emissions from sources such as biomass cookstoves and crop burning.

"But effects on global climate aren't the only reason to reduce soot emissions," Mauzerall cautioned. "The public health case for reducing emissions of fine particles, including soot, is unequivocal, and aerosol pollution can have significant regional climate effects. For instance, soot pollution from India and China that is transported to the Himalayan glaciers can enhance glacier melting and hence influence water supplies in India, China and Bangladesh potentially contributing to increased flooding in some regions in the short-term and reduced water availability in the longer term ."

Whereas carbon dioxide emissions tend to increase with income, some of the largest soot sources are in middle-income countries. In 1996, for example, China and India are believed to have accounted for about 40 percent of global black carbon emissions.

"Because some of the largest sources are in middle-income countries, and because the co-benefits of soot emission reductions can be felt quickly locally, black carbon reductions could serve as a catalyst for engaging these countries in climate change mitigation efforts," Mauzerall suggested.

The wide range in the study's estimate of the soot contribution to warming emphasizes the need for further research. "There's a great deal of uncertainty remaining, both in the inventories of aerosols emissions and in the physical processes particularly those involving cloud formation by which aerosols affect climate," said Kopp, who is currently a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow in Washington, D.C.


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Contact: Steven Schultz
sschultz@princeton.edu
609-258-3617
Princeton University, Engineering School
Source:Eurekalert

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