Global Warming and Climate Change
Radiative forcing describes the changes brought about by the mechanism described above. A positive radiative forcing makes the earth and the atmosphere around it hotter (global warming), whilst a negative radiative forcing makes it cooler.
Greenhouse gases can be split into those that are naturally occurring, and those that are produced as a result of human activity. Important greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, ozone, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapour. Over the last thirty or so years, there has been a steady and unprecedented climb in the levels of greenhouse gases, and most people now believe that this accelerated growth is largely man-made (anthropogenic). This increase in greenhouse gases is raising the temperature of the earth and the air around it to dangerous levels. Manufacturing, power generation, farming and transport are largely blamed, and the excessive level of greenhouse gases they produce are believed to be at the root of climate change.
See a country list of Carbon Dioxide emissions per capita here
On the other hand, black carbon (soot), created by burning carbonaceous fuels, tend to warm the planet. The quantity of black carbon is a function of the way in which it is burnt, and recent research indicates that the smoke from household cooking stoves is particularly high in black carbon.
Snow and ice reflect sunlight very effectively. If a small warming melts snow earlier in the year, more energy will be absorbed by the ground exposed underneath it, in turn causing more warming. This is the main reason wintertime northern regions are expected to warm the most.
Clouds are closely connected with this system; although they may prevent infrared radiation from escaping, they also reflect back some of the solar radiation. As clouds form from water vapour, they release latent heat, which can be a central influence in a weather system see IPCC information on climate change.
CarbonSIG where through this, people who are concerned and working on climate change issues are trying to create a sustainable environment that benefits those living in poverty through information, discussion and action around improved household energy.
biomass, and yet more cook one coal - the majority of whom cook over three-stone fires and / or rudimentary stoves. These cooking methods lead to substantial levels of Products of Incomplete Combustion (PICs) - over one hundred of them, among which are some of the more potent greenhouse gases, including methane and Nitrous oxide . The amount of global warming attributed to each gas is known as its Global Warming Potential (GWP), which describes its potential relative to carbon dioxide. As gases break down over different periods of time, GWP changes with the time period over which the global warming is being considered - known as the Time Horizon.
Table 1 shows some of the more common greenhouse gases, modified from the IPCC working group report 2001, showing the GWP with a time horizon of 100years:
|Chemical species||Formula||100-yr GWP|
|Nitrous oxide||N2O (ppb)||296|
Note, however, that black carbon does not appear in these tables despite its high global warming potential. For further information on black carbon see:
- A rise in the level of the oceans - already driving island-dwellers from their homes
- The permafrost at the ice-caps disappearing
- More violent and unpredictable weather - hurricanes, flash floods
- An increase in droughts and violent rains
- Biodiversity reduction as living things fail to evolve fast enough to survive
- Increase in disease and epidemics as disease vectors spread geographically
- Parts of the world becoming unbearably hot, leading to mass migrations, and land and water conflicts
Just to maintain the status quo of levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases affecting our planet, we need to reduce emissions by around 70%.
Biochar is a carbonised material made from biomass which is treated to high temperatures in a zero to low oxygen environment. Biochar can be produced in certain stove types, and can even be used in a stove as fuel. Because of its recalcitrance to degradation, biochar can be used as a carbon sink, which can mitigate against global warming.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to consider what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with whatever temperature increases are inevitable. The Convention on Climate Change sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change. Under the Convention, governments strive to:
- Gather and share information on emissions, policies and best practice
- Launch national strategies for addressing emissions and adapting to expected impacts. These include provision of financial and technological support to developing countries
- Cooperate in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change
An addition to the treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, has more powerful (and legally binding) measures. Not all countries - notably the US - have signed up to this Treaty to date.
- The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the prime authority of the Convention. It is an association of all member countries (or "Parties") and usually meets annually for a period of two weeks. These sessions are attended by several thousand government delegates, observer organizations, and journalists.
- The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) counsels the Conference of the Parties on matters of climate, the environment, technology, and method.
- A Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) helps review how the Convention is being applied. It also deals with financial and administrative matters.
- The Consultative Group of Experts (CGE) on National Communications from "non-Annex 1 Parties" helps developing countries prepare national reports on climate change issues.
- The Least Developed Country Expert Group (LEG)advises such nations on establishing programmes for adapting to climate change.
- The Expert Group on Technology Transfer (EGTT) encourages the sharing of technology with less-advanced nations.
Partner agencies include
- The Global Environment Facility, which has existed since 1991 to fund projects in developing countries that will have global environmental benefits.
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides services to the Convention; publishing comprehensive reviews every five years of the status of climate change and climate-change science, along with special reports and technical papers
Carbon SIG special interest group has its own vocabulary for making the various meanings of words for climate change and household energy precise and comprehensive to people that do not have specific knowledge on this field. You can see the CarbonSIG glossary here
summary for policymakers provides an excellent overview
- Clean Development Mechanism (CDM); This is the mechanism set up under the Kyoto protocol and is more relevant for very large projects as verification is expensive and complex. In terms of stoves, there are currently obstacles to using the CDM as biomass fuel has to be shown to be 'renewable' both before and after projects have taken place. This constraint is currently under review by the COP. Kyoto carbon trading is set to start in April 2007. A detailed description of how cooking stoves relate to the CDM can be found here
- Voluntary market: This mechanism is perhaps more appropriate for smaller projects. Companies (represented by several of our CarbonSIG members) negotiate with organisations and industries to provide funding for development projects which reduce carbon emissions. The level of monitoring and verification differ from company to company, and are also dependent on the wishes of the industry offsetting the carbon.
- HEDON CarbonSIG message on Non-renewable biomass and household energy
- Draft Decision Text on CDM and Non-Renewable Biomass
- Draft Note prepared by World Bank staff on CDM & Non Renewable Biomass
- Presentation by B Schlamadinger from Joanneum Research, Austria at a COP12 side event, Nairobi 9 Nov 2006
- Revised draft methodology on Non-Renewable Biomass, 8 Nov 2006
- User:Liz Bates - foundation text