2010 April 5: NC Charlotte: Clean Air Carolina: Climate Change in the Arctic: Global Implications

 

2010 April 5: NC Charlotte: Clean Air Carolina: Climate Change in the Arctic: Global Implications

 

Clean Air Carolina hosted a roundtable discussion

on February 17 focusing on the challenges and

opportunities facing the United States and the

international community regarding the rapidly

warming Arctic climate.

The special event was organized in partnership with

the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, DC

and Clean Air-Cool Planet, an organization working

to motivate the public and US policymakers to take

action on climate change.

Mecklenburg County Commission Chair Jennifer

Roberts and Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx

attended the event and made brief comments.

His Excellency Wegger Strommen, Ambassador of

Norway to the United States moderated the

discussion which included presentations by:

Dr. Walt Meier, research scientist at the National

Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of

Colorado in Boulder

Dr. Ellen Douglas, assistant professor of

hydrology in the Environmental, Earth and

Ocean Sciences Department at the University

of Massachusetts in Boston

Rafe Pomerance, a Senior Advisor and Fellow

with Clean Air-Cool Planet and former climate

policy official with the Clinton Administration.

Climate Roundtable presenters from l-r: Dr. Walt Meier, Dr. Ellen

Douglas, Norwegian Ambassador Weggen Strommen, Charlotte

Mayor Anthony Foxx, and June Blotnick, Clean Air Carolina

While North Carolina is far from the Arctic, changes

experienced there are harbingers of changes that

may affect natural resources, commerce and public

health in our region. As a coastal state, its important

for our residents to keep abreast of the latest

scientific findings in order to make informed and

appropriate policy decisions that mitigate climate

change and help us adapt to the changes our coastal

communities will face in the future.

The Arctic’s Critical Role in Climate Change

The Arctic exerts a special influence over our global

climate system. Because much of the Arctic is

covered with snow and ice and the surface reflects

rather than absorbs heat, the region registers the

impacts of pollution faster and more noticeably than

the rest of the planet.

Arctic temperatures have increased at almost twice

the average global rate. The current rate of warming

is of an intensity that is causing the unprecedented

demise of the vast Greenland ice sheet, the

disappearance of semi-permanent Arctic Sea ice,

and a decline of the region’s characteristic

permafrost. This last phenomenon, in particular, has

the potential to accelerate the release of stored

carbon and methane into the atmosphere, more than

several hundred times current emissions of CO2.

Diagram from Dr. Walt Meier’s presentation. Full presentation can

be found at http://www.cleanaircarolina.org.

Black Carbon Plays Key Role in Arctic Warming

NC Clean Diesel Campaign: The Carolina Connection

Most discussions on slowing global warming have

focused on reducing carbon (CO2) emissions, which

can stay in the atmosphere for a hundred years or

more. While it is true, an effective and rapid effort to

reduce global CO2 emissions is critically needed for

the survival of the Arctic in the long-term, reducing

other greenhouse gases that have the same impact

on climate change, like black carbon, can help in the

shorter term.

Black carbon or “soot” is known as a “short-lived

forcer” (SFLs) because of its impact on climate

change and the fact that it typically stays in the

atmosphere for a few weeks. The burning of fossil

fuels like coal and diesel is a major source of

black carbon.

Tiny particles of soot can travel long

distances and some end up in the Arctic absorbing

heat in the atmosphere and depositing on snow and

ice resulting in additional melting. Once it is

deposited on the snow and ice, its effects last much

longer than a few days or weeks.

Rafe Pomerance, Senior Advisor & Fellow with Clean Air-

Cool Planet and former climate policy official with the

Clinton Administration addresses the audience at the Climate

Roundtable.

What is Clean Construction?

Emissions from construction equipment

represent the largest source of off-road

diesel pollution. Requiring governmentsponsored

construction projects to use clean

diesel equipment, cleaner fuels and limit their

idling reduces toxic air pollution and ensures

taxpayer dollars are not being used to pollute

the air.

Key elements of a Clean Construction

Policy include:

 No-idle policy to limit unnecessary idling



Use of Ultra-Low Sulfur Fuel (ULSD)



Retrofit equipment with 50 HP and higher

engines with verified emission control technology

to reduce particulate matter (soot)

While it’s crucial to clean up black carbon emissions

in the countries nearest to the Arctic, Clean Air

Carolina is working hard to reduce diesel pollution in

North Carolina. We are partnering with over 20

organizations in North Carolina to reduce diesel

emissions from school buses, trucks and

construction equipment. While new EPA guidelines

require diesel engines to be cleaner after 2007

reducing the amount of black carbon/soot, there are

thousands of older diesel engines being used across

the country.

Diesel engines last for decades, release exhaust

with over 40 toxic pollutants and have been identified

as a probable carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental

Protection Agency (EPA). Diesel emissions lead to

aggravated asthma and allergy symptoms, chronic

bronchitis, heart & lung disease, cancer, and

premature death. The Clean Diesel Campaign is part

of a national campaign sponsored by the Clean Air

Task Force to reduce diesel pollution.

Clean construction policies are needed to ensure

government construction projects at the local, state

and federal level use diesel equipment that does not

pollute the air. Clean Air Carolina has asked the City

of Charlotte to adopt such a policy. Contact Phil

Rossi at 704.342.9161 to learn how you can help.

Controlling black carbon emissions from the Arctic

Council States and near-Arctic nations could have

a large and potentially rapid impact in slowing

Arctic warming

Information from Clean Air-Cool Planet’s (CA-CP) materials on

climate change in the Arctic was used with permission in

preparation of this newsletter. Thanks to Barbara Elkus and

Rafe Pomerance of CA-CP, Ambassador Weggen Strommen,

Jannicke Jaeger and Espen Myhra from the Royal Norwegian

Embassy in Washington, DC and climate scientists Dr. Walt

Meier and Dr. Ellen Douglas

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