Black Carbon Twice as Dangerous as 2007 Estimate, Scientists Say

The black carbon produced by diesel engines is nearly twice as damaging to the planet as estimated in 2007 and trails only carbon dioxide as the most dangerous climate pollutant, according to an article published online today in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.

The four-year study by more than two dozen researchers also showed that black carbon causes “significantly higher warming” over the Arctic and can affect rainfall patterns in high-emitting regions such as Asia. The pollutant also has contributed to rising temperatures in mid- to high-latitude areas including the U.S. and Canada.

“The potential to slow warming by cutting black carbon is even more important than previously understood,” Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, said today in a statement discussing the study. “It also kills over a million people every year who contract deadly respiratory diseases.”

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition, a group of more than two dozen nations that aims to reduce short-lived pollutants including methane, is pursuing projects that reduce black-carbon emissions from heavy-duty vehicle engines, brick production, waste burning and inefficient cookstoves.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced last year that the U.S. was joining the coalition, as “more than one-third of current global warming is caused by short-lived pollutants.” The U.S. contributed $12 million of the $15 million in startup funding, and committed an additional $10 million in annual support to existing efforts, Clinton said.

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