The USAID ECO-Asia Clean Development and Climate Program has just released a new report on Black Carbon Emissions in Asia, which addresses the following issues:
  1. What are the properties of black carbon as a contributor to global warming, and what are the direct and indirect impacts of black carbon with respect to global warming, natural ecosystems, human health, or other considerations?
  2. What are the principal sources of black carbon emissions in Asia, both in terms of types of activities generating emissions and the location of these activities?
  3. What are the most immediate opportunities for reducing black carbon emissions in the Asia region and for mitigating the impact of those emissions in Asia, and what are the major obstacles to pursuing these opportunities?

Black carbon (BC), the main component of soot, is a product of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels (primarily coal and diesel fuel), the burning of solid biomass in cook stoves and heating stoves, and the open burning of biomass.

Although black carbon has long been thought to be a contributor to global climate change, its contribution traditionally was estimated to be minor compared to the contribution of the main greenhouse gases (GHGs). However, a number of recent studies have questioned this view, suggesting instead that black carbon is a major contributor to atmospheric warming.

Accompanying this reassessment, black carbon has also been identified as a driver of important regional climate impacts. Several studies have identified Asia as the single-largest source of global black carbon emissions from contained combustion (such as combustion in engines, stoves, and kilns), accounting for more than half of all such emissions. Asia is also a major contributor to global black carbon emissions from open combustion (forest fires, land clearing through fire, and burning of agricultural wastes). However, such combustion also produces emissions of climate-cooling aerosols and by most studies is estimated to have an overall climate neutral or cooling effect.

Because of these new findings, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) commissioned this report to answer the following key questions:
  1. What are the properties of black carbon as a contributor to global warming, and what are the direct and indirect impacts of black carbon with respect to global warming, natural ecosystems, human health, or other considerations?
  2. What are the principal sources of black carbon emissions in Asia, both in terms of types of activities generating emissions and the location of these activities?
  3. What are the most immediate opportunities (in terms of technological or economic viability) for reducing black carbon emissions in the Asia region and for mitigating the impact of those emissions in Asia, and what are the major obstacles to pursuing these opportunities?

Read the report in full here