UNEP Report On Short-Lived Climate Forcers (SLCFs)

Guest Blog | June 14, 2011 | Press Releases

Knoxville, Tenn. (June 14, 2011) – Today the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released the full text of its long-awaited report: “The Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone.” The report results were released this morning, June 14 at 5:00 a.m. EST at a press conference during the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Bonn, Germany. The materials are posted on the UNEP website at http://www.unep.org. Key findings of the report include:

  • The global climate is changing now, warming most rapidly in polar and high-altitude regions, where black carbon’s role in darkening of snow and ice exacerbates already dangerous climate trends. (A related Arctic Council report released last month found that the Greenland ice sheet is particularly at risk, and dangerous trends in its degradation have led to much higher estimates of sea level rise by the year 2100.)
  • Black carbon can disturb tropical rainfall and regional circulation patterns such as the Asian monsoon, affecting millions of people on the subcontinent. Ozone can also reduce crop yields, and together these pollutants lead to many premature deaths worldwide.
  • In the U.S. and Europe, older diesel engines are responsible for about 60 percent of black carbon emissions, and are the fastest-growing source of black carbon emissions in developing countries.
  • Implementing aggressive emission reductions of black carbon, and contributors to tropospheric ozone, including methane, could cut projected climate warming by as much as 0.5 degrees Celsius, or about 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit, by 2070. Such cuts could be made with existing technology and through current political structures, and would have immediate and multiple benefits for human health and that of the planet.

“Unlike carbon dioxide and other long-lived greenhouse gas emissions, where cuts will require many decades before temperature reductions can be measured, mitigation strategies for reducing SLCFs can be implemented quickly, and positive results can be expected over a much shorter time frame,” according to Clean Air Task Force climate scientist Ellen Baum.

In the U.S., numerous local, state and federal efforts are underway to reduce the black carbon component of diesel pollution. Federally, (S 972) the Clean Construction Act of
2011 was introduced in Congress last month to incorporate clean construction principles in the federal transportation reauthorization bill. The United States House of Representatives and Senate committee drafts of the transportation bill are expected to be released as early as this week.

“With the increasing burden of air pollution in the Southeast, passage of these federal initiatives as well as local and state initiatives will be critically important to making significant reductions and realizing the near-term benefits of the clean up of these pollutants,” said Anne Blair, SACE’s Clean Diesel Program Manager.

This week, the Southeast Diesel Collaborative is holding its annual meeting in Atlanta to focus on ways to increase reduction of diesel emissions in the next decade. SACE calls on the city of Atlanta and cities throughout the region to commit to reduction of diesel emissions by passing strong idling reduction programs, investing in clean diesel equipment and passing clean contracting ordinances to ensure equipment used in local projects meets high emissions standards.

For municipalities looking for ways to GREEN their fleets, retrofitting existing diesel equipment is great place to start. SACE also encourages trucking companies and drivers who are in the market for a new, pre-owned truck that meets high emissions standards to check out our program, Clean Trucks Make Cents, and our inventory of retrofitted trucks at http://bit.ly/lghkdl.

For comments on today’s report release and local diesel clean up priorities, please contact:

  • For diesel emissions reduction initiatives and clean construction information in the Southeast, — Anne Blair, Clean Diesel Program Manager, [email protected], 404-849-7929
  • On the UNEP report — Ellen Baum, Senior Climate Scientist, [email protected], 207-666-5676; 207-720-0642 cell
  • On black carbon and diesel-reduction initiatives in the U.S — Brooke Suter, coordinator, Diesel Clean-up Campaign, [email protected], 703-342-6402 cell

# # # Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast.http://www.cleanenergy.org