Soot’s underestimated role in climate change

Soot, aka black carbonAccording to the most comprehensive research on the subject, soot – also known as black carbon – may have a significantly higher role in climate change than previously estimated.

According to a BBC article quoting the study : ” (soot) dark particles are having a warming effect approximately two thirds that of carbon dioxide, and greater than methane. “

Tackling its emissions – which come mostly from wood and coal burning as well as diesel engines in developed countries – would be easy to tackle.

To a researcher quoted by the BBC, tackling black carbon emissions would cut warming temperatures by half a degree and would thus give the world economies “a couple of decades of respite” .

This can be explained by the fact that soot “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.” as Bloomberg reports.

So cutting these emissions would prove to be a good move but wouldn’t replace cutting other greenhouse gases emissions such as carbon dioxide or methane. Decreasing the amounts of soot would also have health benefits as I noted last year.

To conclude it is worth noting that the G8 – and a few other countries such as Ghana, Mexico, Bangladesh and Sweden – recently announced they were willing to cut soot emissions. Let’s hope it will be another blow to rising emissions.

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