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Black Carbon Diesel Initiative in the Russian Arctic

Russian Language Content

For Russian language information on black carbon, please see our partner site hosted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia. Exit EPA disclaimer

Black carbon, also known as "soot," results from the incomplete combustion of organic matter such as fossil fuels and biomass. Black carbon causes significant environmental harm and impacts human health in the Arctic. When deposited on snow or ice, it reduces the reflection of sunlight, causing further warming and increasing the rate of melting.

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The project will report results to both:

Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle), the Nordic Environmental Finance Corporation (NEFCO), Murmansk State Technical University, and WWF Russia have partnered with EPA to implement the project in the Russian Arctic.

EPA and its partners have also formed a Technical Steering Group of Russian, international, and U.S. experts to guide the project and to serve as an advisory body on inventories, pilot project design and related issues.

Mobile and stationary diesel engines are among the largest sources of black carbon emissions in the Arctic. Across the diesel sector, substantial black carbon reductions are possible. To address this challenge, EPA is leading the Black Carbon Diesel Initiative under the Arctic Black Carbon Initiative (ABCI). The ABCI also includes initiatives led by the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with support from the U.S. Department of State.

  • New! Presentations available from Transport and Clean Air, a December 2013 Circumpolar Workshop. This seminar allowed leading experts to share best practices on reducing emissions of particulates and black carbon from diesel sources in the Arctic.

EPA is engaging with partners from government agencies, U.S. Arctic and Russian universities and non-governmental organizations, Russian and Arctic stakeholders, and indigenous communities on a four-step project to reduce diesel black carbon emissions in the Russian Arctic through 2015. Specifically, EPA and its partners will:

  1. Conduct initial scoping and assessment of primary sources of black carbon in the Russian Arctic,
  2. Develop a baseline emission inventory for black carbon from diesel sources,
  3. Implement targeted, on-the-ground demonstration projects for reducing black carbon from diesel, and
  4. Establish policy recommendations and financing options for reducing black carbon from diesel sources.

EPA's work in the ABCI focuses in the Russian Arctic, but the project includes broader collaboration to reduce diesel black carbon emissions across the Arctic.

About Black Carbon

Black carbon is formed by incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass. Part of the mixture known as soot, black carbon is the component of particulate matter which most strongly absorbs light, causing warming of the atmosphere. In addition, when black carbon is deposited on snow and/or ice, it reduces the amount of sunlight that would ordinarily be reflected, causing further warming and increasing the rate of melting, which has significant implications for ice and snow melt in the Arctic. Black carbon also has significant human health impacts.

Mobile and stationary diesel engines are among the largest sources of black carbon emissions in the Arctic.

  • Off-road mobile sources include locomotives, ships, construction vehicles, and farming equipment, all using diesel fuel.
  • On-road mobile sources include vehicles such as cars, buses and trucks.

Across the diesel sector, substantial black carbon reductions are possible. For example, in the United States, changes in fuel quality and composition, advances in engine design, and use of emission control technologies can reduce black carbon emissions from heavy duty in-use diesel engines by up to 99 percent. These efforts also lead to improved air quality and corresponding improvements to public health.

Because black carbon remains in the atmosphere for only a relatively short time, when emissions of black carbon are reduced, atmospheric concentrations of black carbon decrease almost immediately. Therefore, reducing black carbon emissions can help prevent near-term warming and associated effects on snow, ice and precipitation. Reducing black carbon also improves human health by decreasing the adverse effects of black carbon on respiratory and cardiovascular health, including premature death.

History of the Arctic Black Carbon Initiative (ABCI)

Within the framework of the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December 2009, Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, announced the Administration’s intention to commit $5 million towards international cooperation to quantify emissions and impacts of black carbon from fossil fuel and biomass burning and to reduce black carbon emissions and the associated warming effects in and around the Arctic through the launch of the ABCI.

The U.S. Department of State has prioritized reducing black carbon in the Russian Arctic, and has sought EPA's expertise in reducing diesel emissions to address this challenge. The U.S. Department of Energy is also responding by developing collaborative programs on combined heat and power to attempt to address some of the key residential sources of black carbon. The U.S. Forest Service is working on reducing black carbon from forest fires and agricultural burning in the Russian Arctic. This work also complements ongoing policy and technical work going on in the Arctic Council and EPA's Programs in Russia.


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Contacts

EPA's work on the ABCI:

Teresa Kuklinski
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2670R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460
E-mail: kuklinski.teresa@epa.gov
(202) 564-6600

EPA's work with the Arctic Council:

Hodayah Finman
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2670R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460
E-mail: finman.hodayah@epa.gov
(202) 564-6600

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