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Scientists present findings on black carbon and climate change
Research suggests significant benefits from reducing short-lived compounds
SACRAMENTO - Today, the California Air Resources Board heard the research findings from six world-leading experts describing the potent and near-term contribution to climate change posed by black carbon, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons.
The research findings on short-lived climate pollutants were presented by:
- Dr. Mark Jacobson, Professor Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford
- Dr. V. Ramanathan, Professor Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UC San Diego
- Dr. Marc L. Fischer, Staff Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
- Dr. Erika Sasser, Senior Policy Advisor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Dr. Alan Lloyd, President, International Council on Clean Transportation
- Mr. Durwood Zaelke, President, Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development
The scientists also explained that reducing emissions of these short-lived global warming compounds would be a highly effective strategy to mitigate the impacts of climate change, especially in Arctic regions.
"We have known for years that black carbon hurts our lungs and shortens people's lives. The new science tells us that by controlling these compounds we can also make a significant difference in averting some of the worst effects of global climate change,” said Chairman of the California Air Resources Board Mary D. Nichols.
Short-lived climate pollutants include black carbon (the black soot portion of health-damaging fine particle pollution), methane (the primary constituent of natural gas and also emitted by livestock), and hydrofluorocarbons (industrial chemicals used in refrigeration and air conditioning).
Unlike carbon dioxide which stays in the atmosphere for about a hundred years, these three have a relatively short atmospheric lifetime ranging from a few days to a few decades. Even so, they tend to have strong and immediate global warming influences. Actions to reduce emissions of these short-lived climate pollutants will produce a relatively rapid reduction in their contribution to climate change.
California has been addressing fine particle pollution from diesel engines over the past ten years to reduce health risks. Findings presented today indicated a fifty percent reduction of these compounds in ambient air over the past twenty years. “It is encouraging to see that ARB’s diesel regulations, while designed to improve public health are also addressing climate change,” added Nichols.
California also has measures in place under AB 32 to reduce emissions from large commercial refrigeration units, an approach that reduces emissions of hydrofluorocarbons into the atmosphere. In addition, the findings presented today also support ongoing efforts by ARB to address methane emissions in the agricultural sector as part of a comprehensive energy strategy.
The studies presented today are among a body of growing international research indicating the dangers posed by black carbon. On Saturday, the G8 announced that it will formally join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (launched in February) complementing efforts to address carbon dioxide emissions.
For copies of the presentations go to the board agenda, see item 12-3-2, and beneath this heading select the presentation of your choice: http://www.arb.ca.gov/board/ma/2012/ma052412.htm .
ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.