An article in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives reinforces the need for owners of diesel vehicle fleets to address black carbon emissions. Black carbon particles from diesel engines, cookstoves used in developing countries, and open burning have been identified as a significant contributor to global warming, falling into a category of agents known as Short-Lived Climate Forcings. New research suggests that SLCFs may be as important as agents of climate change than carbon dioxide.
About 77% of the estimated 8,000 kilotons of black carbon emitted globally every year come from the developing world but developed country emissions are also important regional contributors. For example, North American diesel emissions are contributing to the melting of the Greenland ice pack.
One initiative that can help reduce black carbon emissions is the installation of particle filters on older diesel trucks, as has been mandated in California. However, the costs of doing this are high, averaging almost $6,000 per truck, and this is only one approach to reducing black carbon emissions. Another may be accelerated scrappage of older trucks. President Obama has recently cut funding for truck retrofits and early retirement.
Gallon Environment Letter will be following up with a more detailed article about SCLFs and climate change in a future monthly issue.
The EHP article is available at http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.119-a172