TOPICS / Black carbon


Black carbon refers to solid particles emitted during incomplete combustion. Diesel engines are an important source, though not the major one. Black carbon contributes to climate change in two ways: in the atmosphere it absorbs sunlight and re-emits the energy as heat; and when deposited on ice or snow, in addition to warming the surface and air directly, it reduces the surface albedo (reflectivity) causing the surface to absorb more sunlight. As a contributor to climate change it is possibly second only to CO2, and because it is short-lived (remaining in the atmosphere only a few weeks) reducing BC emissions could have a very rapid and significant effect on the rate of warming. Black carbon is also a serious public health concern. Exposure to particulate matter is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths globally each year.

Most Recent

A global strategy to introduce low-sulfur fuels and cleaner diesel vehicles
Presents a global strategy to reduce fine particulate (PM2.5) and black carbon emissions from the global fleet of on-road diesel vehicles by identifying 36 countries for immediate action.
Consulting report
Heavy fuel oil use in Arctic shipping in 2015
MEPC’s 70th session will consider two topics that may greatly reduce the amount of HFO used in the Arctic: a global marine fuel sulfur cap of 0.5% (currently it is 3.5%), and whether or not HFO use in the Arctic should be...
Working paper
3rd Workshop on Marine Black Carbon Emissions: Measuring and Controlling BC from Marine Engines
Third and final workshop designed to inform and guide a two-year project on marine black carbon (BC) funded by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).

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