Most of these GHGs are odorless, colorless gasses that vanish into thin air. In the meantime, they ignored black carbon, more commonly known as soot, which we see on a not so bright and not so clear day in developing country cities like Beijing, New Delhi and Manila.
This was because the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) used to estimate the warming effect of black carbon at 0.3-0.6 Watts per square meter (W/m2). A more recent study by the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Project, however, placed the warming effect at more than double that at 1.1 W/m2. This places black carbon just after carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas with the worst effects on the environment.
Black soot was also identified as the culprit behind the polar caps melting faster than expected. In a previous article, we here pointed out how exhausts from ships diesel engines emitted black carbon that settled on ice caps, increasing their heat and light absorption and accelerating the rate at which they melt.
And if these weren’t bad enough, the UNEP estimates that 2.4M people die each year due to lung and other related diseases caused by inhaling soot. We couldn’t stand near an open fire because of the smoke. So just imagine living in a cloud of smoke, which is the reality for millions of people in developing countries around the world.
So it should seem pretty obvious that we should find ways to reduce soot emissions for ones personal and the earth’s health. Unfortunately, politicians are a slow thinking lot and it will take some time for our policy makers to find ways to address this problem. That is why a group of private individuals and investors are trying to do what they do best – set up a market for trading of black carbon credits to finance efforts to control soot emissions.
The black carbon credits will be sold on carbon credit markets in Europe and will finance low lying fruit in black carbon emission control – more efficient stoves, exhaust improvements and the like in the developing world. With the help of mobile technology, the black carbon emissions can now be monitored and verified. And when these efforts are tallied and validated, they can be sold as carbon credits in the carbon trading markets.
Negotiations are still ongoing as of this time but the potential impact is great. Families in the developing world usually use inefficient smoke belching stoves to cook their meals. Unfortunately, the price of a new efficient stove could set back finances by $50 to $100, a big deal for the 3 billion people around the world who live on less than $2 a day.
By tapping into the carbon trading market, a family could be loaned a more efficient stove which they could pay back within as fast as two years simply by lighting it up to activate a sensor that sends a text to the carbon credit verifier. The effect is cleaner air, improved health and a cleaner earth and everybody wins. And this will all become possible when the black carbon credit market gets suited up against soot soon.