The topic of black carbon and other short-lived climate pollutants has been extensively discussed at Ministerial Meetings of the Arctic Council over the past decade. In April 2009, Ministers, in their Tromsø Declaration (2009):
To follow up on the Ministers’ appeal, the ACAP WG established an Expert Group on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (originally Short-Lived Climate Forcers and Contaminants Project Steering Group) in 2010.
SLCPs such as black carbon and methane, covered in part by current international conventions, are listed among ACAP priorities in ACAP Strategy to Address Contamination of the Arctic Environment and its People for 2016-2020.
Black carbon is one of several Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) which also include substances such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), methane, and tropospheric (ground-level) ozone.
Fine particles (known as PM2.5), of which black carbon is one constituent, have well-known and significant adverse impacts on human health and a significant impact on the environment, with a particularly strong effect in the Arctic. Evidence indicates that black carbon contributes to climate change by absorbing solar radiation and heating surrounding air when suspended in the atmosphere, and by reducing the reflectivity of the earth’s surface when deposited on snow and ice and other surfaces, accelerating the melting and warming process.
Action on short-lived climate pollutants complements mitigation of long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, and results in improvements in human health among indigenous peoples and Arctic populations.
The primary mandate of the Short lived Climate Pollutants Expert Group (SLCP EG) is to facilitate projects with an initial focus on activities that reduce emissions of black carbon, methane and other SLCPs, transported and/or deposited in the Arctic. The Expert Group is to develop pilot projects that build capacity and demonstrate emission reduction activites for SLCPs, such as black carbon, methane, and HFCs.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of International and Tribal Affairs, Office of Global Affairs and Policy