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Study: Black Carbon is Major Culprit in Climate Change

Ohio Environmental Council, January 15, 2013

A landmark study released this morning is shedding new light on the potency of black carbon as a contributor to climate change. The OEC is pushing to move affordable technology for pollution and idle-control off the shelf and on to dirty diesel engines.

The study, Bounding the Role of Black Carbon in the Climate sSystem: A Scientific Assessment, was published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmosphere. The study finds:

  • The direct climate impacts of black carbon (BC) are nearly twice as great as previously believed (2007 IPCC’s Fourth Assessment), ranking BC “as the second most important individual climate-warming agent after carbon dioxide.”
  • Diesel engines are the best target for mitigation, followed by brick kilns and residential stoves. Cleaning up diesel engines could slow climate change, immediately.
  • Confirmation that BC causes significantly higher warming over the Arctic from a combination of the warming effect on the atmosphere and the additional effect of black carbon darkening snow and accelerating the melting of Arctic snow and ice.

The Ohio Environmental Council hails the new report, hoping it will help prod lawmakers and agency officials to get more serious about diesel clean up.

“We cannot afford to fall off the climate change cliff. But if we don’t change our route, that’s where we’re headed,” said David R. Celebrezze, Director of Air & Water Special Projects at the OEC. “The good news is affordable and effective diesel emission- and idle-control technologies are available right now. But we need state and federal action to prod fleet owners to upgrade their diesel vehicles and heavy equipment with diesel-particulate filters and other modern pollution controls.”

“Congress should fully fund the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA). Ohio should fund its diesel clean-up program at $50 million. Emission controls and clean construction provisions work—but only if they’re moved off the shelf and strapped on to diesel engines. Our climate, economy, health, and environment will all benefit,” concluded Celebrezze.

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