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BEST-L  February 2012

BEST-L February 2012

Subject:

U.S. Pushes to Cut Emissions of Some Pollutants That Hasten Climate Change

From:

"Dr. Ann C. Wilkie" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Dr. Ann C. Wilkie

Date:

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 13:37:13 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (84 lines)

U.S. Pushes to Cut Emissions of Some Pollutants That Hasten Climate Change.
The New York Times, Wednesday, February 15, 2012.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/science/earth/us-pushes-to-cut-emissions-that-speed-climate-change.html


  “WASHINGTON — Impatient with the slow pace of international climate
change negotiations, a small group of countries led by the United States
is starting a program to reduce emissions of common pollutants that
contribute to rapid climate change and widespread health problems.

  Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to announce the
initiative at the State Department on Thursday accompanied by officials
from Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden and the United Nations
Environment Program. The plan will address short-lived pollutants like
soot (also referred to as black carbon), methane and hydrofluorocarbons
that have an outsize influence on global warming, accounting for 30 to
40 percent of global warming. Soot from diesel exhausts and the burning
of wood, agricultural waste and dung for heating and cooking causes an
estimated two million premature deaths a year, particularly in the
poorest countries. Scientists say that concerted action on these
substances can reduce global temperatures by 0.5 degrees Celsius by 2050
and prevent millions of cases of lung and heart disease by 2030.

The United States intends to contribute $12 million and Canada $3
million over two years to get the program off the ground and to help
recruit other countries to participate. The United Nations Environment
Program will run the project.

Officials hope that by tackling these fast-acting, climate-changing
agents they can get results quicker than through the laborious and
highly political negotiations conducted under the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change, or U.N.F.C.C.C. That process,
involving more than 190 nations, grinds on year after year with
incremental political progress but little real impact on the climate. At
the most recent United Nations climate summit meeting, in Durban, South
Africa, negotiators agreed to try to produce a binding global climate
change treaty by 2015, to take effect after 2020. Many scientists say
that irreversible damage to the atmosphere will be done before then.

Soot, methane and hydrofluorocarbons, which are used in foam and
refrigerants, have a short life span in the atmosphere, measured in
weeks or years. By contrast, carbon dioxide, the primary cause of
climate disruption, persists in the atmosphere for thousands of years —
and its effects are much more difficult to mitigate.

Researchers have identified about a dozen ways to significantly control
black carbon and methane emissions. Soot can be reduced by installing
filters on diesel engines, replacing traditional cookstoves with more
efficient models, modernizing brick kilns and banning the open burning
of agricultural waste. Methane can be captured from oil and gas wells,
leaky pipelines, coal mines, municipal landfills, wastewater treatment
plants, manure piles and rice paddies.

The new initiative will provide money for developing countries to reduce
short-acting pollutants and will try to raise additional public and
private funds for new mitigation projects.

Drew T. Shindell, a senior climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute
on Space Studies, said that attacking short-lived climate agents could
have immediate impacts. “From a political point of view,” he said,
“what’s really appealing about these measures is that a lot of the
benefits are realized by those that take the action. If you reduce these
emissions in the developing world, it’s the developing world that gets
most of the benefits, by stabilizing rainfall and improving public health.”

Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and
Sustainable Development, said that the initiative, if expanded and
adequately financed, would have more impact on the climate than the
United Nations climate change negotiations, at least in the near term.”

-- 
**********************************************************************
Dr. Ann C. Wilkie                          Tel: (352)392-8699
Soil and Water Science Department          Fax: (352)392-7008
University of Florida-IFAS
P.O. Box 110960                         E-mail: [log in to unmask]
Gainesville, FL 32611-0960
______________________________________________________________________
Campus location: Environmental Microbiology Laboratory (Bldg. 246).
http://campusmap.ufl.edu/
______________________________________________________________________
BioEnergy and Sustainable Technology Society
http://grove.ufl.edu/~bests/
**********************************************************************

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