July 22, 2013
Reductions in emissions of black carbon since the late 1980’s, mostly from diesel engines as a result of air quality programs, have resulted in a measurable reduction of concentrations of global warming pollutants in the atmosphere, according to a first-of-its-kind study examining the impact of black carbon on California’s climate according to a California Air Resources Board (ARB) 13 June 2013 news release.
The study, funded by ARB and led by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, estimates that reductions in black carbon as a result of clean air regulations were equivalent to reducing carbon dioxide emissions in California by 21 million metric tons annually or taking more than 4 million cars off California roads every year.
Black carbon – tiny soot particles released into the atmosphere by burning fuels – has been linked to adverse health and environmental impacts through decades of scientific research. It is also one of the major short-lived contributors to climate change.
The 3-year-study is the first comprehensive regional assessment of the climate impact of black carbon on California. In conducting the study, scientists used computer models and air pollution data collected by aircraft, satellite and ground monitors. The study’s results support a growing body of scientific evidence that suggests it is possible to immediately slow the pace of climate change regionally by reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, like black carbon.
When all sources of black carbon emissions from diesel fuel combustion are considered, including farming and construction equipment, trains and ships, the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions can be as high as 50 million metric tons per year over the past 20 years. That’s roughly equal to a 13-percent reduction in the total annual carbon dioxide emissions in California.
What this means to you
California’s Air Resources Board has shown its efforts to reduce black carbon from diesel engines are successful in terms of health and climate warming effects. California often sets national emission control trends, and particulate matter control is likely to be continued with reduced emission targets.
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