Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane; Summary of Progress and Recommendations

Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane; Summary of Progress and Recommendations

Authors:

Arctic Council
Resource type:
Reports, Case Studies & Assessments
Publishing year:
2017

Rapid warming of the Arctic has profound consequences not only for the Arctic itself but also worldwide. Loss of Arctic snow cover and sea ice and the thawing of permafrost accelerate warming on a global basis1 , and melting of land-based ice contributes to sea-level rise. In addition, as the Arctic continues to warm at twice the global average rate2,3 , emerging science suggests that the reduced temperature differential between the Arctic and other areas may contribute to destabilization of the jet stream in a way that intensifies weather extremes in mid-latitude regions 4 . Within the Arctic, buildings collapse as long-frozen soils destabilize, storms increasingly batter newly exposed coastlines, and subsistence hunting and fishing – the mainstay of generations of Arctic communities – becomes ever more challenging.

To slow the pace of warming over the next two to three decades, both globally and in the Arctic, countries must reduce emissions of powerful short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) such as black carbon and methane as an essential complement to reductions of carbon dioxide and other long-lived greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, global action on carbon dioxide and other long-lived greenhouse gases together with SLCPs offers the only path to achieve the internationally agreed goal, as set forth in the Paris Agreement adopted by the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to limit warming to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius5 .

In addition to its powerful atmospheric warming, black carbon that falls on snow and ice also accelerates the melting of these reflective surfaces and consequently global warming. Due to their proximity to the Arctic, Arctic States are uniquely positioned to slow Arctic warming caused by emissions of black carbon: despite generating just ten percent of global black carbon emissions, Arctic States are responsible for 30 percent of black carbon’s warming effects in the Arctic6 .

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