On the eve of World Environment Day (5th June), policy makers are being urged to step up the elimination of "black carbon," now believed to be the second largest contributor to rising global temperatures. Doing so could deliver a significant and immediate boost to the fight against climate change.
Otherwise known as soot or particulate matter, 25% of black carbon
in the United States and Europe is emitted from diesel engines. When in
the atmosphere, these small particles cause warming by absorbing
sunlight and emitting it as heat. After falling back to the earth,
black carbon particles also darken snow and ice, reducing their ability
to reflect sunlight and thereby accelerating melting.
Black carbon is estimated to be responsible for 50% of the total temperature increases in the Arctic from 1890 to 2007, and for 18% of all global climate change, compared to carbon dioxide's 40% contribution.
Despite this, black carbon emissions have yet to be acknowledged by UN policy makers as a significant source of global warming. Until recently, black carbon emissions were regulated solely as a way to improve local air quality, with no reference to the impact on the climate.
However, while carbon dioxide emissions remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, black carbon is only present in the atmosphere for at most a few weeks, which means that reductions in black carbon will have an instant impact on mitigating global warming. This immediate effect could delay critical tipping point events such as significant sea level rises from melting sheets of ice - giving more time for carbon dioxide levels to be reduced.
Mike Galey, Chair of the Environmental Industry Commission's
Transportation Working Group and a spokesperson for Eminox, commented:
"Relatively straight-forward technology exists to significantly reduce black carbon emissions, and because black carbon stays in the atmosphere for only weeks, action now would have an immediate effect of slowing global warming. We urge policy makers and major fleet operators to consider the fight against global warming as well as local air quality when considering cleaning up their diesel vehicle fleets."
Vehicles fitted with diesel particulate trap filtering technology
reduce black carbon emissions by more than 90%. Ultra fine particles
(below 1 micron) that enter the atmosphere as black carbon are captured
by systems using ‘wall flow filter' technology, which is particularly
effective in removing these ultra fine particles before they are
emitted into the atmosphere.
Eminox offers three systems - the CRT® FBC and SCRT® -- which tackle black carbon emissions.