How Barents Region can reduce the emissions of air pollutants

Climate change can only be stopped by drastic reductions of carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas, but there are other pollutants that affect the climate and some which we call short lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). Pollutants that we call SLCPs are black carbon, HFCs, methane and tropospheric ozone. Measures to reduce these pollutants may reduce the projected heating of the climate with 0.5 degrees Celsius (UNEP and WMO Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropsheric Ozone 2011). It is therefore an important contributor to the global goal of limiting the warming of the climate to 2 degrees.

Furthermore, reducing SLPCs also has positive effects on air quality, health and agricultural yield. In contrast to the long lived carbon dioxide emissions, which stay in the atmosphere approximately 100 years, reductions of SLCPs have an effect already after a few days or weeks.

The BEAC Working group on Environment (WGE) has identified work on black carbon emissions as a key to reduce SLCP emissions in the Barents region. A first step before introducing measures is to identify the important sources and the cost effective measures. Black carbon is emitted from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. Hence, measures to reduce the emissions are related to transport, housing and certain industries.

A Nordic study (conducted by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute, IVL and financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers) has concluded that the single largest source of black carbon emissions in the Nordic countries is residential biomass combustion. The burning of biomass in housing contributes with more than 40% of total emissions. Other sources are shipping and mobile diesel vehicles and machinery. For the Russian part of the Barents region, open burning is also a significant sector.

You can read details about black carbon and methane in the Norwegian part of Barents region here.

Caroline Dickson, deputy director at the Swedish Ministry for Envrionment and Energy

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