Clearing the Smoke: Understanding the Impacts of Black Carbon Pollution

Clearing the Smoke: Understanding the Impacts of Black Carbon Pollution


[Official GPO Transcript] [The Chairman] … 1952, soot-filled smoke
from London’s factories and fireplaces settled on the city,
and over the next few days thousands of people died from the
soot and fumes. For years, the iconic image of Los Angeles was
not the Hollywood sign; it was an obscured skyline. And while
much progress has been made to clean up this pollution, clouds
of sooty smoke continue to blanket homes from Mexico City
to Mumbai, harming the health of millions of people. Soot is the visible portion of carbon pollution
from smokestacks and tailpipes, burning fields
and forests. It sticks to our lungs. It causes asthma and
heart disease. It is what gives smoke its ominous color. And, as the saying goes, where there is smoke,
there is fire. In this case, the fire is increased
global warming. The black carbon in soot is one of the most potent
warming agents affecting our planet. From diesel trucks to inefficient factories,
from the cookstoves in southeast Asia to the burning
forests of the Amazon, black carbon and other components
of soot rise into the atmosphere every time we burn fossil fuel
or biomass. There, black carbon absorbs sunlight and traps heat.
Stuck on water drops and ice crystals, black carbon reduces
the cooling effect of clouds. And when black carbon eventually
falls out of the air and settles onto ice sheets and mountain
snow pack, it accelerates the melting of ice and snow, contributing
to rising sea levels and threatening water supplies. Cutting emissions of black carbon could yield
rapid benefits for our health and climate. Black
carbon only stays in the atmosphere for a few days to weeks before
settling out. That means that a global effort to reduce
these emissions would act fast to prevent respiratory disease and
aid in the fight against global warming pollution. And we already have the technologies needed
to achieve deep reductions, including particle filters, improved
diesel engines and efficient cookstoves. Developing and installing
these technologies would create jobs and move us
forward in the clean energy economy. Now, I am sure there are some who would argue
that if we cut black carbon pollution, we can delay on
reducing greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide. This simply will
not address the momentous challenge that we face. For homebuyers,
a solid downpayment can keep the mortgage more manageable,
but they still have to make the monthly payments. If
we want to keep the planet a viable residence, a downpayment in
the form of black carbon reductions won’t replace the need to
make sustained investments in clean energy. Each year of
delay will make it more difficult to keep temperatures from rising,
and it will continue to put the American economy at a
competitive disadvantage. We recently took steps to cut black carbon
and greenhouse gas pollution. Last year, the House passed
the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, which
will set us on a pollution-cutting path and at the same time
create millions of new jobs, making America the global leader
of the clean energy economy. Working with Representative Inslee, we incorporated
a number of provisions that would cut emissions
of black carbon here at home and seek opportunities to curb
emissions abroad. This will provide innumerable benefits for
our health and for our climate. The deadly soot-filled London fog of 1952
encouraged the U.K. to enact their own clean air laws in
1956. My hope today is that, even in the fog of war that sometimes
envelops our progress on clean energy and climate change,
that we can still clear the smoke to find common ground on issues
like black carbon. I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses
and hearing from them how Congress can help address
this important issue. I would now like to recognize the ranking
member of the select committee, the gentleman from Wisconsin,
Mr. Sensenbrenner. [Mr. Sensenbrenner] Thank you very much, Mr.
Chairman. There is so much controversy about how to
confront climate change that sometimes there seems to be no
common ground. However, by taking a realistic approach to
black carbon, we can have a positive effect on the environment
without breaking the bank, which is something that both Democrats
and Republicans should support. Black carbon, which is essentially soot, doesn’t
get the attention that CO2 receives. That is too bad
because the more focus on black carbon would produce
immediate results for the environment without requiring the
types of regulations that stifle the economy. Scientists are learning that black carbon
is one of the leading contributors to climate change. Most
global emissions of black carbon come from energy-related combustion
and the burning of biomass. By coating both the air
and the planet’s surface with soot, black carbon absorbs heat
at a dangerous rate. But unlike CO2, which hangs in the atmosphere
for decades, black carbon lingers for only days at a time. It is also easier for society to address the
emissions of black carbon. There are already a number of
ways to reduce these emissions without relying on the cost-prohibitive
technologies that CO2 regulations would require. Most of the world’s black carbon is produced
in Asia. Surprisingly, when it comes to black carbon,
the U.S. isn’t cast as the bad guy, as North America produces
less than Europe, South America, and Africa. But much
of the black carbon produced in the developing world could be
offset with simple technology and techniques. Improved farming and forestry policies would
go a long way toward reducing the soot. So would cleaner-burning
stoves, which are already readily available and could
be cheaply deployed in many of the developing nations
where dirty, inefficient stoves are commonly used. It would
be a lot cheaper to buy clean stoves for developing nations
than to implement draconian CO2 regulations. As Congress struggles over how to confront
climate change, black carbon reductions, targeted investments
in research and development, and improved transmission are
cost-effective options that could have large impacts without
crippling our economy. I want to welcome Dr. Drew Shindell of NASA
Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who will talk
about the immediate impact that could result from cleaning up
black carbon emissions. Hybrid truck legislation that I have introduced
would also help black carbon. Diesel engines are a primary
source of black carbon. Since most trucks use diesel, reducing
fuel use in trucks would reduce both CO2 and black carbon
emissions. My bill would create a grant program in the
Department of Energy to fund research and development of hybrid
truck technology. This is one approach that is simple and affordable.
There are many others, and I hope today’s hearing
leads to more understanding of this problem and its solutions. Thank you. [The Chairman] I thank the gentleman very
much. All time for opening statements of Members has been completed. [The Chairman] We will turn to our first witness,
who is Dr. Tami Bond. She is a professor in the Department
of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Bond’s research considers
the interactions between energy use, the composition
of the atmosphere, and the global science system. We welcome you. Whenever you are ready, please
begin. [Ms. Bond] Thank you, Chairman Markey and
Ranking Member Sensenbrenner and members of the committee.
Thank you for this opportunity to discuss black carbon and its
role in climate change. I am really honored to be here and
to participate in the committee’s important discussions as you
explore a wide variety of solutions to clean energy and climate
change. I have been working on black carbon for about
15 years. I do everything from models of emissions in
the atmosphere to measurements of diesel engines and cookstoves.
So, although I sit in front of a computer most of the time,
I have definitely gotten my hands dirty. Black carbon is the dark component of smoke.
I am going to start by giving you an idea of what a powerful
climate impact it has, putting some numbers on what Mr. Markey
said. One ounce of black carbon in the atmosphere
absorbs about the amount of sunlight that would fall on
a tennis court. This light turns into heat and warms the atmosphere.
One pound of black carbon absorbs about 650 times as much
energy during its short lifetime as one pound of emitted CO2
does during 100 years. An old diesel truck, not our current regulations,
but an old diesel truck driving for 20 miles would
emit about a third of an ounce of black carbon. That is about
the weight of two nickels. That would heat the atmosphere during
its short lifetime as much as adding a home furnace
to it. Now, after a week, that heating is gone because the particles
fall out of the atmosphere. If they fall on snow, they
can warm it and melt it. Over that same 20 miles, the same truck will
emit about 70 pounds of CO2. And that would add five times
the warming of the black carbon but spread over
100 years. So there are two mayor effects: one short, one long. Estimates of black carbon “forcing” or the
atmospheric warming today are between 20 percent and 60
percent of carbon dioxide’s. We have high confidence that atmosphere
and snow forcing by black carbon and its interaction
with sunlight leads to warming and is significant in comparison
with greenhouse gasses. One of the uncertainties, however,
is how those same emissions change clouds. I would like to add an analogy to that of
Mr. Markey. Reducing black carbon emissions is a short-term
solution to climate change. It is a bit like applying
an emergency brake to a car that is out of control. You slow the
vehicle quickly, get a little time to think, but your vehicle will
still run away if you don’t take your foot off the gas pedal,
if CO2 emissions are maintained. The estimated emission rate of black carbon
is about 8.3 million tons per year. Total emissions from
the United States are about 460,000 tons. That is about 5.5
percent of the global total. Of this total–that is, the global
total–diesel engines provide about a quarter. Solid fuels like
wood and coal burned for home cooking and heating are also about
a quarter. Small industries are about 10 percent. And open
forest and grassland burning is the remaining 40 percent. There are uncertainties in global emissions.
The totals are probably underestimated, especially in developing
countries. However, we are confident that the sources
I mentioned are very large contributors to global black carbon. It is important to note that there are international
initiatives working on both diesel engines and cookstoves. This
doesn’t mean that they have all the resources they need. I have given you a very simple picture. However,
sources that emit black carbon also emit several other
pollutants: Cooling particles that reflect light away
from the Earth and gases that warm the Earth by changing ozone
and methane. You can think of each source like a bathroom faucet.
The mixed water can be very warm if you turn on the
black carbon or the gasses, very cold if you turn on the cooling
particles, and the net result depends on the balance. So sources with high emissions of warming
pollutants are the most promising targets for reducing warming.
Of the sources I listed above, diesel engines are the richest
in warming pollutants by far, followed by residential
cooking and heating, industrial sources, and, last, open burning
of biomass. Since the late 1800s, emissions in the United
States have gradually transitioned from residential wood
and coal to industry to diesel engines. This development
track is common through much of the world. In countries at
low levels of development, black carbon emissions come mainly
from solid fuels for heating and cooking. In developed
regions like the United States and Europe, the main sources
are diesel engines. There are three big drivers of cleaning up
black carbon. First, technology. Our very first success
was in the use of pulverized coal boilers to increase coal use
and yet reduce black carbon emissions at the same time. Second,
clean fuels. Introduction of natural gas, electricity,
and liquified petroleum gas has played a large role in cleaning
up residential emissions. That is just one example.
And, finally, regulation and government participation in
technology development, such as the initiative that Mr.
Sensenbrenner mentioned. These have driven advanced technologies
and retrofit programs for diesel, for example. Now, to confirm that reducing sources rich
in black carbon will benefit—- [The Chairman] If you could just summarize,
please. [Ms. Bond] I am on my last paragraph. To confirm that reducing sources rich in black
carbon will benefit climate, we have to estimate the net
effect of cleaning up individual emission sources, our best estimate
of cloud response to particle emissions, which is very
important. I and three other scientists are leading a group
of about 30 coauthors in a study to assess those questions,
and we expect to have a product in June. I don’t think that all the questions about
black carbon will be solved by June, but that report should
be able to tell us which actions can be taken soon and what
targeted research is needed to evaluate actions in the near
future. Thank you. [The Chairman] Thank you, Dr. Bond, very much. Our second witness is Dr. V. Ramanathan. He
is a distinguished professor of atmospheric sciences
at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University
of California, San Diego, and the director of the Center
for Atmospheric Sciences. He is the chair of the National
Academy of Sciences panel that provides strategic advice to the
U.S. Climate Change Science Program. We welcome you, sir. Whenever you are ready,
please begin. [Mr. Ramanathan] Chairman Markey, Ranking
Member Sensenbrenner, and other honorable members
of the committee, I am truly honored by this. My own work is using autonomous—- [The Chairman] Is your microphone on down
there? [Mr. Ramanathan] I think so. Can you hear
me now? [The Chairman] Yes. [Mr. Ramanathan] Can I start over or get 20
seconds? [The Chairman] All right. [Mr. Ramanathan] My own work is using autonomous,
unmanned aerial vehicles to measure this absorption
of sunlight by black carbon directly. We also use instrumented aircraft like the
Gulf aircraft, and we have followed black carbon transport
all the way from China across the Pacific Ocean into the U.S.
So these things travel long distances. We also have stations in the Himalayas and
in the Sierras to see how the black carbon settling on the
snow darkens the snows and causes melting. And we have measurements
for all of these phenomena. And the first thing we have to recognize–first
of all, I completely agree with the opening statement
by both the chairman and the ranking member. The BC impact,
impacts the air pollution and health at regional scales–and
I will talk about that–and global scales, in terms of global
warming. At the regional scale, black carbon influences
cloud formation and heats the air around it, disrupts
rainfall patterns, such as a monsoon in India. And
the deposition of black carbon on bright snow surfaces darkens
ice and snow. And this, along with the warming of the air by
BC, contributes to the warming of the Arctic–my colleague, Dr.
Shindell, will talk about that–as well as the elevated regions
of the Himalayan-Tibetan glaciers and snow packs.
Thus, black carbon is directly linked with the water budget of
the planet. Relating to the global warming effort of BC,
current estimates show the contribution of BC, black
carbon, to the heat addition of the planet is as much as
20 percent to 60 percent of that due to carbon dioxide. The
60 percent value is my estimate with Professor Carmichael, in
which we constrained the global network of instruments and aircraft
data. As has been mentioned, BC is an important
fast-action tool in mitigating long-term warming due to greenhouse
gases. To give an example, reducing black carbon emissions
by 50 percent today will lead to a 50 percent reduction
in the heat trapped by them within a few months so that policymakers
will witness the success of their actions during their
tenure. I think it would also be a great opportunity to test
climate scientist theories and models. And it is instructive
to compare the potential of BC as a mitigation tool with
that of CO2 reduction. The manmade carbon dioxide blanket weighs
a staggering 880 billion tons. The weight of black carbon in
the blanket is a minuscule 250,000 tons, except it almost has
half the effect of CO2. However, we have to point out, CO2
reductions are required to avert large warming. For example, we
are currently adding about 35 gigatons every year, and it is
growing at a rate of 2 to 3 percent. At this rate, we will be
adding another 1,500 billion tons of CO2 during this
century. So black carbon reduction should be thought of as
complementary and not as supplementing CO2. As has been pointed out, two important targets
for reductions of black carbon are those generated
by diesel and BC generated by cooking with biomass fuels. For
example, I am working with a village in India, trying to
understand replacing the cookstoves, the traditional cookstoves,
with nearly smoke- free cookstoves, how much climate warming
we would avoid. So the last thing I want to conclude, the
science of black- carbon-climate link we have to understand
is relatively new, compared to what we have spent–over 4 or
5 decades– understanding the issue of CO2. And, as a
result, every month we are finding out yet another
way in which black carbon impacts the environment. So this is
the science in the making. I just want to give you three major examples.
The interaction of black carbon within clouds
and the impact on precipitation and cloud extent–this might
emerge as one of the bigger issues. The role the black carbon atmospheric
heating and ice/snow darkening, its role on the observed
warming and melting of the alpine glaciers and snow packs.
It is an emerging science. Lastly, impact of black
carbon on the Arctic warming and sea ice retreat, which I think
will be covered by my colleague, Dr. Shindell. Thank you so much. [The Chairman] Thank you, Doctor, very much. Our next witness is Dr. Drew Shindell, a senior
scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
He is also a lecturer in the earth and environment sciences
at Columbia University. Of his many distinctions, he received
a National Science Foundation Antarctic Service Medal
and a Scientific American Top 50 Scientists award. We welcome you, sir. Whenever you are ready,
please begin. [Mr. Shindell] I would like to first thank
the committee for the opportunity to testify this morning. Direct observations of climate seldom reveal
cause and effect, so that the influence of black carbon
on surface temperature must be estimated using models
as well as data. Several independent methods find broadly similar
results, with an overall global mean warming due to black
carbon that is about 15 to 55 percent of the warming due
to carbon dioxide, as we have heard. Black carbon has likely had
even larger regional effects, especially in areas such as the Arctic,
due to its strong impact on snow and ice. Black carbon affects other aspects of climate
in addition to surface temperature. Several studies have
indicated that the large amounts of smoke and haze observed near
Asia can cause shifts in a monsoon. The physical mechanism linking black carbon
to changes in precipitation is clear and operates worldwide.
Unlike temperature changes, shifts in precipitation
nearly always have negative net economic impacts, as long-term
infrastructure has quite sensibly been designed for norms over
past decades. Actual policies will usually impact emissions
of many compounds simultaneously, since incomplete
combustion produces substantial amounts of other particulates
and gases in addition to black carbon. Hence, it is necessary to
examine the net impacts of all emissions from a particular
activity on climate. Furthermore, emissions of pollutants also
affect the quality of the air we breathe. Policies typically treat
the air quality and climate effects separately, however. Encouragingly, research has shown that the
optimal strategies to reduce black carbon and the
ozone precursors carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds,
and methane are similar whether the goal is improving air
quality or limiting global warming. This argues for a stronger
emphasis on reduction in emissions of these pollutants
in air quality policies, for which there would be a climate
co-benefit, and in climate policies, for which there would be
an air quality co- benefit. Research suggests that strategies to simultaneously
improve air quality and mitigate global warming differ
from region to region. In the U.S., reductions in overall
emissions from diesel vehicles appear to achieve both goals,
with the substantial part of the benefits coming from
reduced black carbon. More generally, increases in fuel
efficiency coupled with reductions in emissions from both gasoline-
and diesel- fueled vehicles show the most positive results
for climate and air quality. In contrast, many countries in the developing
world use fuel with high sulfur content, as the U.S.
did years ago. Hence, in developing Asia, where particulate
emissions are larger than in any part of the world, reductions
in emissions from both industrial processes and residential
cooking stoves offer ways to simultaneously improve air quality
and mitigate warming. The health benefits that would be gained from
reductions in particulate and ozone concentrations are clear
from epidemiological studies. While these benefits
are most strongly felt in nearby population, long-range transport
of air pollution can also be substantial. And, hence,
the health impacts of air pollution are not simply a
local issue. Climate impacts extend even more broadly. Particulates also impair visibility, with
detrimental impacts on tourism and recreation. Elevated
levels of ozone cause damage to plants, leading to economic
losses from reduced agricultural and forestry yields and decreased
food security. Many projects to control black carbon, carbon
monoxide, volatile organics, and methane emissions may
therefore have higher benefits than costs, even without including
any value from reducing warming. For example, both State
and Federal diesel emissions regulations have shown human
health benefits five times or more than the cost of implementing
the regulations. Air pollution leads to $70 billion to $270
billion in damages per year in the United States alone.
So there is clearly a great deal of potential for co-benefits,
including health care cost savings. Though further research is clearly needed
to reduce uncertainties, we can already conclude that
reductions in emissions of black carbon are likely to be
a useful component of strategies to mitigate climate change.
Realistic emissions reductions would affect several types of particles
and gasses and, thus, require a careful analysis of their
net impact. In summary, while there is more to learn,
several things are already clear: Reductions in emissions
of products of incomplete combustion will virtually always
improve health. And by targeting emissions rich in black carbon,
carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and methane, many
options are available that will simultaneously mitigate
climate change. Thank you. [The Chairman] Thank you, Doctor. And our final witness is Conrad Schneider.
He is the advocacy director of the Clear Air Task Force,
a nonprofit environmental research, education, and legal
advocacy organization. We welcome you, sir. [Mr. Schneider] Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking
Member Sensenbrenner, and members of the committee.
My name is Conrad Schneider, advocacy director of the Clear
Air Task Force. And I want to thank you personally for the leadership
that you and this committee have shown on the issue of
climate change and for the work done in passing the Waxman-Markey
bill. I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you
today regarding policy options for reducing black carbon emissions. The Waxman-Markey bill made an excellent start
in dealing with this issue, and we appreciate you revisiting
it today because it represents a promising approach
that deserves immediate attention, both in the climate bill
and in other legislation currently before Congress. At the outset of today’s hearing, I just want
to make one thing very clear: Addressing black carbon
and the other short- lived climate forcing agents, such as methane
and ozone, is not a substitute for enacting comprehensive climate
change legislation to deal with carbon dioxide emissions.
We are going to need both and then some in order to address
the climate crisis. I want to try to give a sense of urgency to
this hearing, as well, and these solutions. Imagine a world
in which the Arctic is literally melting; that the Arctic
Ocean is about to become ice-free, we are told; that permafrost
is melting, potential releasing millennial stores of carbon
dioxide and methane. And we are searching, globally, we
are searching for strategies that can counteract this situation
almost immediately. And we find a strategy that not
only can act immediately to do so, but it could save hundreds
of thousands of lives globally. We don’t have to imagine very much. That is
the situation we face today. And reducing black carbon is
a strategy that can deliver those immediate benefits. In fact,
some experts estimate that black carbon emissions to reduce
global warming could deliver as much as one to two of the
Socolow wedges that you all are familiar with–the goals of trying
to use a variety of different steps to meet the Carbon Mitigation
Initiative’s 200-billion-ton goal. And, as you have heard, black carbon is not
only a climate forcing agent, it is a potent, deadly air
pollutant. In the U.S., we have estimated that diesel particulate
emissions alone will cause over 21,000 premature deaths this
year. So black carbon is a win-win for climate and
public health, but given the tremendous environmental and
health benefits of reducing it, relatively little is being done
in the U.S. or globally to actually attack this problem.
The previous panelists identified diesel engines, cookstoves,
and agriculture burning as the most controllable
sources of black carbon. So I am going to focus there today
on the policies that we can use to attack them. Now, last year, due in part to the leadership
of Representative Inslee, Congress directed the
U.S. EPA to study the issue of black carbon and report back
early next year, about a year from now. It is supposed to inventory
the sources, assess the potential metrics, and identify
the most cost- effective approaches for reductions. Now, on one level, the solutions for these
source categories are pretty simple. For diesel engines,
there are filters available to trap up to 90 percent
of this pollution. For cookstoves, the key is replacing existing
smoking cookstoves with more efficient cookstoves.
And for agriculture burning, it involves shifting the burning
away from the spring season and using pyrolysis to turn waste into
biochar that sequesters carbon and increases agricultural
productivity. However, all of this is easier said than done.
There are over 11 million diesel engines in use today
without filters, tens of millions globally. Half the people
on Earth use inefficient cookstoves, and unnecessary agriculture
burning persists in many places. For diesels, the debated policies boil down
to two things, and the kind of things that you don’t want
to hear, necessarily: mandates and money. The U.S.
and the EU have adopted new engine standards that are going
to reduce these emissions by 90 percent, but it will take
decades before they are fully effective. In the meantime, we really
need to focus on retrofitting the existing diesel fleet
with these filters. Now, the Waxman-Markey bill directed EPA to
exercise its existing authority over black carbon. And
the lion’s share, as you have heard, in the United States comes
from diesels. But, unfortunately, the EPA, under the Clean Air
Act, has the authority to regulate only 1 million out of
those 11 million diesel engines. An analysis by MJ Bradley
Associates estimated that targeting just that million could achieve
the climate benefits of removing 21 million cars from
the road and would save approximately 7,500 lives, yet EPA has
failed to act. On the money side, the Kerry-Boxer bill that
passed the Senate committee devoted a portion of that
bill’s allowance allocation proceeds to fund the Diesel Emission
Reduction Act, DERA. DERA passed in 2005 and authorized a
billion dollars over 5 years to clean up diesel. However, it has
been chronically underfunded. The Recovery Act provided $300
million for DERA, but EPA received $2 billion worth of applications
for that money and is sitting on $1.7 billion worth
of project applications that could cut black carbon emissions
significantly today. Additional funding for DERA should be
included in any jobs bill that passes this year. And since DERA
expires next year, it should be reauthorized and fully funded. In addition, the upcoming transportation bill
reauthorization offers the opportunity to reduce black carbon
from diesel construction equipment. We believe that work on
federally funded transportation infrastructure projects should
be accomplished with clean diesel equipment paid for through
the transportation bill funds. And Associated General Contractors, the people
who own that equipment, they agree. Last year, we negotiated
a set of joint clean construction principles with AGC. Now
Representative Hall of this committee, with the support of several
Members here, is championing the effort to see that those principles
are included in the transportation bill. For cookstoves, the Waxman-Markey bill calls
for providing assistance in foreign countries to reduce
black carbon emissions and specifically outlines actions
to provide affordable stoves for developing countries.
It notably also provides a set of performance standards, which
are excellent. However, the bill did not allocate any allowances
or auction proceeds to fund the program. The
U.S. should lead in the creation of jointly funded international
programs to develop regionally appropriate strategies
to deploy these stoves. But they face many other challenges,
as well, including cultural acceptance of the stoves, the need
for on-site verification and mitigation, and cheaper stoves
that can be deployed at scale. And, lastly, stemming agricultural fires in
the spring when Arctic ice and snow is most affected by the
deposition of black carbon requires overcoming cultural resistance
to long-held agriculture practices. Black carbon emissions
from spring agricultural burning in the northern latitudes
are highest in Eurasia and in North America, in the grain
belt. Black carbon emissions can transport directly from there
into the Arctic, darkening the surfaces there and accelerating
melting. So these fires present a clear target for mitigation. So, in conclusion, policies targeting black
carbon emissions offer a viable climate strategy
that can be implemented without delay, that will deliver
immediate climate benefits, using technology that is available
today. And, moreover, they can deliver important public
health protections from one of the most potent and widespread
air-pollution- related public health threats. Winning these policies will not be easy, but
their significant benefits make them extremely cost
beneficial, and they may constitute our best hedge against
near-term climate impacts. Thank you. [The Chairman] I recognize the gentleman from
Washington State, Mr. Inslee. [Mr. Inslee] Thank you. This is really an excellent panel. Dr. Bond,
if I had had someone like you in college, I would have
fulfilled my fantasies of becoming a physicist. So, thanks
for your educational work here. First question: Is black carbon a proxy for
the health benefits of reduction of other emissions associated
with fossil fuels? If we reduce black carbon, do we get
the benefits, almost by necessity, of reductions of other
emissions? Or are they different? [Ms. Bond] There is a lot of similarity, and
there are some differences. Black carbon is just a component of particulate
matter, which has severe health impacts. And so you
can reduce particulate matter and also reduce black carbon,
or you can reduce particulate matter and if you don’t
target black carbon sources, then don’t get the black carbon reductions. Now, your question was the other way around.
If you reduce black carbon, do you always get the health
benefits? In fact, the health benefits are more clear for black
carbon reductions than the climate benefits. The climate benefits
have some uncertainty. There are sources for which we
are confident in the climate benefit. But the health benefits
are always existing. [Mr. Inslee] So let me ask a little different
question. If we made an investment in our diesel transportation
fleet of X dollars right now and our interest was on
the health impacts, would the best investment to be, at least
in the short term, the filtration systems to capture black carbon
and then get health benefits associated with that, or would
there be a better investment for better health impacts? Mr. Schneider. [Mr. Schneider] I will try to take that one. The Clean Air Task Force has analyzed the
benefits of looking at power plant pollution cleanup,
diesel pollution cleanup, car pollution cleanup from both a
health perspective and from a climate perspective. And if you
factor in, if you take into a combination both the health and
the climate benefits, there is no better investment than
in a particle filtration system. Particulates are the most deadly air pollutant.
Black carbon may deliver the fastest climate benefits.
So, taken together–and when you have a technology that
can deliver a 90 percent reduction in the particulate/black
carbon, you have a real winner for a technology. [Mr. Inslee] I introduced this black carbon
bill, I don’t know, about a year, year and a half ago, and
it seemed to me the right thing to do. But since then I have
seen a documentary showing that the soot on the surface, it was
either the Arctic or Greenland, and I can’t recall which it
was, but it showed these depressions. The whole sheet of ice
I saw had these depressions. And at the bottom of the depression,
there would be this patch of black soot, and I mean black
soot, against the white ice. And it looked like the entire cap
was covered with this stuff, at least at the bottom of each
one of these little melt pools. It caught my attention. And I guess the question is, is the albedo
effect of black carbon, how does that compare to the general
climate change when it is in the atmosphere? Is it just a
small part of the problem or a big part of the problem? [Mr. Ramanathan] Maybe I can answer part of
that question. If you look at global warming effect of black
carbon, this albedo effect contributes about 10 percent
of the total black carbon effect. But if you look in the Arctic
or in Alpine glaciers, then the darkening effect may be
the dominant effect. Because black carbon warming comes from trapping
sunlight in the air. But, locally, in the sea ice and
the glaciers and the ice sheets, the darkening effect may very
well be the dominant effect. Dr. Shindell. [Mr. Shindell] Thank you. We believe that anywhere where there is snow
and ice, the effect you have been describing occurs. In
places like the Himalayas, the results are somewhat more ambiguous
because you have a fair amount of wind-blown dust and
other types of pollutants that are already deposited on those
glaciers. So it almost certainly contributes, but how much
it contributes there is more ambiguous. In the Arctic, which tends to be very far
from, say, dust sources, the snow is very clean, so the effect
is extremely large. And there we believe that it is quite
possible that black carbon is responsible for over half
of the accelerated melting we have seen in the last few decades,
or at least over, say, the 20th century. [Mr. Inslee] Do you mean the albedo effect
from the black carbon? [Mr. Shindell] Well, it is both the effect
of black carbon in the atmosphere and the albedo effect. And
the effect on albedo is obviously very local, but even the
effect in the atmosphere has an extra powerful impact on
the Arctic because most of the sources are from the Northern
Hemisphere industrialized or developing nations, which
means that their emissions are closer. So, unlike CO2, which just drifts around
uniformly everywhere, the black carbon being physically emitted
in the Northern Hemisphere, fairly close to the Arctic, allows
it to have an even stronger impact on the Arctic than it does
on the global average. [Mr. Inslee] Mr. Schneider, you pointed out
what sounded like a potential imperfection of the Waxman-Markey
bill, which we don’t believe there could ever be an imperfection
on that work of art. But you did make reference to,
I thought that the provision that would implement a regulation
on black carbon would apply only to 1 million of the 11 million
units. Could you explain that? [Mr. Schneider] I will. And thank you very
much. And let me just offer another opportunity to thank and
commend the committee and the people who worked so hard
on that bill. And I appreciate you all revisiting the issue today,
hopefully to maybe strengthen the black carbon provisions,
which are already the best in any bill. [Mr. Inslee] And, by the way, if there is
an imperfection, it is not those two gentlemen’s responsibility.
I will take full responsibility. [Mr. Schneider] I suspect that when—- [The Chairman] I actually praised Congressman
Inslee in my opening statement for the provisions. So I
think he deserves full credit for everything that is—- [Mr. Inslee] Including the imperfections. [Mr. Schneider] The bill basically directs
EPA to exercise its existing authority over all sources of
black carbon, the largest, nearly 60 percent of that in the
U.S. being diesel. So it is sort of directing EPA to deal with diesel. And the imperfection, if there is one, is
not in the Waxman-Markey bill. It is in the Clean Air
Act, which gives EPA only the authority, in terms of in-use diesels,
to deal with a very small slice of those engines. The only
provision in the Clean Air Act that allows that is one called–it
is a rebuild provision. Whenever any truck engines are
rebuilt–that is, taken from an old, rebuilt to be in a new–EPA
has the authority to issue more stringent emissions
standards for those rebuilt engines. And in this country, over the next decade,
we project that only about 1 million vehicles will rebuild
in that way. So if EPA exercised, as you directed them, to use
the full extent of their authority, they could only cover that
1 million set of rebuilding engines over that period of time,
whereas the in-use fleet is 11 million. That would include all
the other trucks that don’t get rebuilt and would include all
the off-road engines: The construction equipment and other
engines. EPA right now has no authority over those, and
the courts have said so. I mean, it is very clear that that is
constrained. So one of the first things we would say that
needs to be fixed in that regard is to give EPA broader
regulatory authority to require filters and after-treatment
devices on the existing fleet. And we promote the idea of
doing that in conjunction with incentives to turn over the
fleet faster and potentially economic incentives, like in the
Diesel Emission Reduction Act, to pay for some of that. But one of the things that is holdings us
back right now is we have this golden opportunity to deal with
these sources, which are public health threats and climate
forcers, but EPA really can’t go much further. I don’t mean to be overly critical, but I
would point out also that, even with respect to the engine
rebuild rule, EPA is aware that that authority exists and is studying
the question, looking at the question of whether to exercise
that authority. And we hope they will shortly, but to date
they have not. [Mr. Inslee] What is the best assessment of
the costs associated with that that has been done already? [Mr. Schneider] In terms of the rebuild rule
itself? [Mr. Inslee] Yes. [Mr. Schneider] I believe that to deal with
those million engines, depending on what–not every engine
can take the most advanced type of filter, so that you have
a mixture of solutions. It is several billion dollars,
with a “B,” to comply with that. [Mr. Inslee] All right. So, next question: To what extent is black
carbon an issue on our coal-fired utility plants? We have
talked about diesel. Is black carbon an issue at all with coal-fired
utility plants? [Ms. Bond] Not to the best of our knowledge.
The combustion in a coal plant is good enough that it burns
out all the black carbon. And that has changed in the last hundred
years, but that has been one of our successes. So there
may be particulate matter, but most of it isn’t black. [Mr. Inslee] And I just was reading a little
blurb today about a U.N. program to improve residential
stoves, essentially, in the sub-Saharan African area,
to try to get the more efficient stoves. Is this a viable strategy?
On an international basis, what would it take to
really have a meaningful system to improve the efficiency
of these? Open question. [Ms. Bond] I will say something. I am sure
Dr. Ramanathan will want to speak, as well. Two answers, as any good scientist would give
you, or any good economist. First, yes, it is, because
people want new technologies, people want clean cooking. And
of course there are some cultural barriers, but it is definitely
a potential solution. The second answer is that you have to be careful
how you do it. We have learned quite a lot about how
to improve residential combustion. That includes both
what to do and what not to do. What not to do is to parachute
in, drop a bunch of improved stoves, and hope that people accept
them. But there is a lot of history in that field.
And, as mentioned, you need to work with the communities,
follow up, and, above all, think big-scale. And that
involves both technological and implementation innovation. [Mr. Ramanathan] I will just follow that for
India and South Asia. In India alone, 150 million households
use mud stoves, using firewood. There has been a long history
of trying to replace this, and, by and large, they have
failed. And we got into this just since last year.
We have taken a small village, and the first thing we found
was that technologies were not ready. I mean, they
were sort of built in a laboratory and really didn’t adapt to village
conditions. And just in the last year or two, there are several
companies, Shell and British Petroleum have come with
improved stoves. There are also some U.S.-based companies.
And they, we find now–we have tried five of them. And I am
not allowed to give the names yet because we will publish the
data. At least one of them seems to do the job.
The women are happy with it. I am happy with it because
it cuts down the black carbon emissions. So it is a convergence
of the scientific interest of reducing and cooking
with something which is adaptable to local taste. So I think
the technology is almost there. The last thing I want to mention is that India
has now started on a major cookstove program nationwide.
And it is not clear which way that program is going. [Mr. Inslee] You mean not clear whether it
is going clean or unclean? [Mr. Ramanathan] No, I mean to cleaner cookstoves,
India’s program towards cleaner cookstoves. [Mr. Inslee] Got it. I am going to ask one more. This question
is a little farther afield of this hearing, but I will
ask Dr. Bond. I have experienced a lot of frustration at
the lack of understanding in a lot of places, including
the U.S. Congress, about science associated with climate change,
ocean acidification, black carbon, and the like.
And one of the sources of frustration is that the information
the scientific community has does not get shared with Members
of the U.S. Congress. They just don’t have an appreciation,
for one reason or another, because they haven’t heard from
scientists enough, frankly. I am surprised that–you know, we have people
walking around here today, the U.S. Capitol, who are
aggrieved, and they are petitioning their government for
redress of grievances in a certain sort of direction. But I haven’t
seen scientists up here demanding action from the U.S. Congress,
except in the most restrained, polite, academic, almost
silent ways. If I was a scientist and I knew what, frankly,
a lot of scientists know in this country is going on
out there in the planet, in the climatic systems, and in the
oceans, I would be in somebody’s grill about that, telling them
that we need action. And yet you just don’t see that from
the scientific community, with very few exceptions. We got a letter from, I think, 250 scientists
last week I read, saying, “Wake up and smell the roses.
This problem is still there, even though there were some nasty
e-mails out of England.” But that is about it–a letter,
not a person laying down on the tracks. Why doesn’t that happen? Should it happen?
And how do we engage the scientific community to be more
sharing of the information they have when it needs to be
shared? I am focusing on you, Dr. Bond, because you
are an educator and you are responsible for the future crop
of scientists that we are going to depend upon. [Ms. Bond] Thank you, Mr. Inslee. I think it was just Monday when I told my
air quality modeling class that some of them should run
for office. So I hope that helps. [Mr. Inslee] That would be great, just not
against me. [Ms. Bond] You are well-established enough.
I think I voted for you when I was at University of Washington. [Mr. Inslee] Well, I appreciate that. [Ms. Bond] At any rate, this is a difficult
question, and it has to do with the nature of scientists and
how they approach science. If you have an action outcome, one is almost
afraid that you will affect the science, because you are
supposed to look at it dispassionately. And so, how we conduct
our business, 99.9 percent of the time we must step back
from what we want the outcome to be. We are not allowed to want
an outcome. And perhaps that leads to a disconnect between
us and the people like you and like the rest of the committee
who are able to put that science into action so wonderfully,
to think of so many measures, as Mr. Schneider outlined,
to implement action in society. [Ms. Bond] I don’t have a good answer for
you. I can’t advise the scientific community to become
more passionate because they want to be very careful, and
that is a very important component of the scientific method.
But I can say that if you perhaps had discussions like this
one, or even more informal discussions in which there was mixing
between the committee, like yourself, and a group of scientists,
that that communication might flow a little more easily. [Mr. Inslee] Well, I will just take this one
opportunity to encourage the scientific community to figure
out a way to be dispassionate objectively, but passionate
about sharing the information they do have with the people who
can give effect to those policies. And I think that is possible
in the human intellect to do both of those things. And if we don’t have the scientific community
doing that right now, we are not going to solve this
problem because people, frankly, won’t know about it. And
this is great to have our committee doing this, but if we don’t
have scientists getting people and shaking them by the collars
to get them to understand how significant this problem is,
people are sleepwalking over a cliff. And frankly, the
scientific community are the people vested with the intellect
and knowledge who have the ability to get people
to wake up. So I am just pleading with you, as members of the
scientific community, to try to engage your members and
colleagues in an effort to educate the U.S. Congress, because
I think the moment demands it, and we don’t have a lot of time. Thank you. [The Chairman] I thank the gentleman very
much. Let me ask this question: The temperatures
in Alaska have warmed six degrees Fahrenheit since 1950.
Could any of you comment on the role that black carbon has
played in terms of the changes that are occurring in Alaska or
in the Arctic? [Mr. Shindell] That is something that, as
I mentioned in my statement, cause and effect is very difficult
to understand simply from observations because you only
have one way that the real world happened to behave. So what has
been happening that is distinct since the 1950’s, while concentrations
of CO2 have been rising steadily, concentrations
of different types of particulate have been changing,
with time– after the Clean Air Act some have gone down–and
in different locations. So we can identify the pattern
and try to attribute cause and effect to those. The difficulty
there is that the effect of sulfate, which is something we have
controlled well because of acid rain, looks very similar to
the pattern of black carbon. So what we can see is that, in these kind
of studies, more than half of the rapid warming in the Arctic
is attributable to particulate, but some of that is due to a
reduction in sulfate and some due to increases in black carbon,
both of which have been taking place largely in the last 30 years.
So it is very hard to really separate the two. Probably
a third to a half, or slightly more, is the best number. [The Chairman] Dr. Ramanathan. [Mr. Ramanathan] I think just to echo what
was said, we have been doing this air pollution reduction almost
to speed up the warming. We talked about the smoke in the
blanket, the sulfates and other aerosols act like mirrors on the
blanket reflecting sunlight and shielding the greenhouse warming. So since 1975, we have decreased the sulfate
pollution quite a bit, almost 25 percent globally, but
just in the Arctic nations, the reductions in North America and
Europe is almost 50 percent. So the unmasking of the warming
is definitely contributing to the Arctic warming. The second thing that has been contributing
to the warming is that fossil fuel black carbon has increased.
Not all black carbon is the same. The biomass black carbon
cools a lot less compared to fossil fuel black carbon. So there
are three things which are happening at the same time to contribute
to the Arctic and the Alaska warming: One is the
increase in the greenhouse gases; reduction of sulfur pollution
and unmasking the warming; and the third is increasing the
fossil fuel black carbon. So what fraction that is I have to
leave it to modeling scientists like Dr. Shindell. [The Chairman] Any other comments? The Congress, Mr. Schneider, is moving towards
the encouragement of all electric vehicles, plug
in hybrids. Could you talk a little bit about that trend and
the role that that could play in reducing black carbon? [Mr. Schneider] Sure. First of all, a lot
of the discussion in this country around electric vehicles and
plug in hybrids is in the light-duty sector. We don’t have a
lot of diesel vehicles in the light-duty sector here as
in other countries, and particularly EU. So a conversion of the
light-duty fleet to more electric vehicles and more plug in hybrids
is critical with respect to the reduction of greenhouse
gases, but probably won’t make much of a difference with respect
to black carbon reductions. Representative Sensenbrenner has a bill–it
passed the House–that talks about hybridizing more heavy-duty
vehicles, and that is a strategy that over a long period
of time, if it was able to be successful and all the R&D
and so forth worked, could have a benefit. But the technology immediately
that could be implemented on heavy-duty diesels where
most of the black carbon is coming from in this country really
is the installation of the filters that I described. So these are all complimentary strategies,
and it is important to look at which sector and what
problem you are trying to address, but I think primarily the
electrics and plug hybrids would be addressing greenhouse gasses
from the light- duty automotive sector. [The Chairman] The Recovery Act, the stimulus
package from last February, included $300 million for projects
to reduce diesel exhaust resulting in replacement of
old dirty engines with new cleaner ones and in retrofitting
engines to capture black carbon and other pollutants. There is
still more to do. Could you outline the remaining needs in the
United States and what we can do to reduce black carbon
quickly and effectively? [Mr. Schneider] Well, first of all, let me
commend everyone who supported those provisions in the Recovery
Act. That is probably the biggest breakthrough in terms
of diesel retrofit money that there has been since DERA was passed.
DERA was authorized at $1 billion. It has typically
been funded in the annual appropriation of EPA at around $50
million to $60 million, but in the Recovery Act, as you said,
it got $300 million. And as I said in my testimony, for
that $300 million, the EPA received $2 billion worth of applications.
So that really demonstrates that the demand is out
there, that people want to participate in the program, both in
terms of replacement and retrofits, but EPA is sitting
on about $1.7 billion worth of applications. And their internal
review suggests that about $1 billion of those are
very high quality. So we have suggested that in any jobs packages
that move that include spending, that perhaps, like
the Recovery Act, more money could be devoted to the Diesel
Emission Reduction Act. And EPA’s message is, we can move $1
billion worth of these immediately because we have the applications
sitting at our desk. And that would be probably be the
fastest thing because the idea of the Recovery Act and the
Jobs Act is to get the money out quickly to create the jobs.
This type of DERA investment was estimated by Key Bridge Research
to generate about 19,000 jobs per $1 billion invested,
which is very favorable when you look at the average of
the Recovery Act. So this is a win-win-win: It is a climate win.
It is a public health win. It is a jobs win. So probably
the most immediate thing that could be done is more funding. [The Chairman] Who won the $300 million, Mr.
Schneider? [Mr. Schneider] How do you mean? [The Chairman] In terms of the $300 million,
you said there was $1 billion worth of applications, who
were the winners? [Mr. Schneider] First of all, there were a
diverse set of winners. Applicants included public entities,
included public- private entities. So, for example, a public
entity, that might be a school district that wanted to retrofit
school buses and not only protect the community, but protect
the kids on the bus from the fumes on the bus. It would include
municipalities that wanted to retrofit their transit buses. It
included contractors who wanted to retrofit their construction
fleets, and there was some success in terms of those types of awards. There were other awards in which the people
used the DERA money almost as a Cash-for-Clunkers type of
situation where they were able to replace existing older vehicles,
scrap the older ones and bring in ones with a new, cleaner
technology. So that would include some private fleets, some
State government fleets, and some fleets that work on contracts
for State governments. So there was a whole variety
of folks in every State of the Union I believe that were able
to—- [The Chairman] What has been the results in
terms of the implementation of the programs that the $300
million have incentivized? [Mr. Schneider] Well, first of all, I think
EPA is trying to calculate right now what the emissions benefits
have been from that, and they can do that because the applications
are quite detailed. But that money was able to be awarded
very quickly. It is a reimbursement program, so it will
take a little time to get the money out, but the orders came in
and those fleets were transformed. I think that is the good news,
is that many of those fleets were able to take advantage of
that. And there have been announcements around the country
where kids are riding cleaner buses to school, people are
riding cleaner transit buses to work. Ferries have been retrofitted
so that when they pull into their dock, the black
smoke doesn’t infiltrate the shore. All of these things
have been accomplished through the Recovery Act. [The Chairman] So I should ask the EPA then
to give me their—- [Mr. Schneider] Their assessment of that,
yes. The Chairman [continuing]. Report in terms
of how successful the $300 million has been. You
said that for $1 billion, it would create how many thousands
of jobs? [Mr. Schneider] Nineteen thousand. [The Chairman] So, theoretically, then 6,000
jobs were created with the $300 million. [Mr. Schneider] Correct. [The Chairman] So I think it is important
for us to get the information on that as well because, as you
said, it is win, win and win. Thank you. Again, you each, I think, made some reference
to the fact that acting on this black carbon sector should
not in any way reduce our activities to reduce CO2 in general.
So could each one of you take 30 seconds to succinctly
make your own point on that subject? Let me go to you, Dr. Bond. [Ms. Bond] The fact that we should not reduce
CO2 endeavors because of black carbon? We have—- [The Chairman] No, that we should not reduce
our efforts to reduce the CO2 because we are also working
on the carbon issue. [Ms. Bond] Correct. I think Mr. Schneider
said it best; we need both and everything else that we can
think of. Right now, we are in a position where we need
to act quickly. We don’t have the 50 years it will
take to come up with new technologies to reduce atmospheric
forcing. And so black carbon is a quick solution, but we will
still be left with the bill after putting CO2 into the atmosphere.
We can’t afford to miss either opportunity. [The Chairman] Dr. Ramanathan. [Mr. Ramanathan] It is important to recognize
that black carbon reduction is not supplementing our
prevention efforts to reduce CO2 simply because we are adding 35
billion tons of carbon dioxide every year, and it
is increasing at the rate of 2 to 3 percent. If we don’t do anything
about CO2 emissions, the CO2 concentration
alone in this century can be double, and the warming from that
added CO2 can exceed 2 degrees. So there is nothing
BC reductions is going to stop this. The BC reduction is more a
short-term gain to slow down the climate change. Ultimately,
that climate change is from CO2, and we have to
reduce it. Thank you. [The Chairman] Dr. Shindell. [Mr. Shindell] Well, in the nineties, the
U.K. introduced a public health law that said that anybody emitting
black smoke could be deemed a public nuisance, meaning
legally actionable. So this led to the City of London suing the
London Underground over a power plant emitting black smoke, which
they got out of by claiming it was brown. And I bring this up because the interesting
thing about this, as well as being amusing, is this was
the 1890s, not the 1990s. And we have known for a long time about
the public health impact, and black carbon should be
dealt with because it is a public health impact, whether or not
it had any climate impact. There is an extra impetus now because
climate is such a severe problem. And I don’t even like the
expression that this buys us time because we really don’t have
any time on the CO2 issue either. That problem is coming down
the road; it is simply a different time scale. That problem, since CO2 accumulates in the
atmosphere and lasts in the atmosphere for centuries, that
problem will be with us for a long time, even if we begin to
address it right away. And so addressing black carbon and the
other short-lived pollutants can help, but really has to be
side by side with already immediate action on CO2. [The Chairman] Thank you. Mr. Schneider. [Mr. Schneider] Mr. Chairman, I like your
metaphor about the house payments, down payment and monthly payments.
We have a lot of experience in this particular area
right now; if you make a down payment and fail to make the monthly
payments, you know what happens. You get a foreclosure.
And if we act on black carbon and make that down payment but
we fail to make the monthly payments we need on greenhouse gases,
our project will fail. And maybe we theoretically have bought
ourselves a few years, but we will have squandered that opportunity,
that down payment, if we don’t follow through and make
the necessary reductions in greenhouse gases. It will take,
as I said, both– and in order to reach the target levels that
people say will avoid the worst effects of global warming. [The Chairman] By the way, I wanted to tell
you, Dr. Ramanathan, the reason we are having this
hearing is I read this brilliant article that you had in Foreign
Affairs. And from a public education perspective, if I
could have 435 Members of Congress read it, I think that
we would have a different reaction to the actions that we
have to take and the recommendations for actions that we have to
take to solve the problem but also why it is a smart way to
go because it is something that can happen relatively quickly
and have a big payoff as well. If I could go to India for a second, and maybe
you could expand a little bit more, Dr. Ramanathan,
talk a little bit more about India and other countries and their
cooking devices and what strategy you would recommend to be
implemented. And what percentage of all black carbon comes
just from those cooking mechanisms that are used in third-world
countries? [Mr. Ramanathan] In fact, some of the statistics
I am going to give you come from the pioneering studies
of my colleague sitting to my right. But we have verified
it with observations collecting isotope data of black carbon. It
turns out at least two-thirds of the black carbon over South
Asia, which includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, comes
from biomass burning in terms of cooking stoves. [The Chairman] Did you say two-thirds from
those countries or two-thirds for the whole world? [Mr. Ramanathan] Two-thirds from those countries.
If you look at the total emissions from India, about
two-thirds is from biomass burning. I know my own grandmother
cooked with these cook stoves. And they do that because
the food from that is the most delicious at least I have ever
eaten, just like the smoked salmon here. So that is the reason
for the difficulty changing that to LPG stoves and others. But that was the reasons given by all of the
nonprofits with which I have interacted. But our experience
based on this 1 year in this selected village is that the
women are tired of cooking with these traditional mud stoves.
It simply takes a long time to collect the fuel, and it is a
lot of work. And so I think the communities, at least the
communities I have worked with, are ready. We are working
with the most densely populated part of India. It is called
the Indo-Gangetic Plain. Over 600 million live there. And the other beautiful thing which is happening
is the Indian Government has realized this is a development
issue, a health issue. And now I have teamed up with
some economists at Berkeley and Duke to show that it is also
contributing to agriculture decrease of the yield. So all
of this is coming together. And also the realization it may
be impacting the glaciers is also bringing in a lot of communities
together. So my personal feeling is the timing is really
perfect for a major bilateral collaboration between U.S.
and India to take it to the next stage. [The Chairman] And what is the next stage?
How can Americans change Indian cooking habits? [Mr. Ramanathan] I think the change can happen,
my feeling, is through technology, transfer of the stoves,
and there are various ways to do that. And there are also
ways we can remove the black carbon from the chimneys, and so
let them use. And the third is, of course, funding. Those three. And the fourth I want to mention, the key
thing is what we are doing; we have to document how much of
the health we are saving, exposure studies. And we have to document
how much global warming benefit will you get. My personal
calculation suggests removing 1 ton of black carbon in
those villages will have the same effect as removing thousands
of tons of carbon dioxide, in terms of global warming. And these
are theoretical calculations. So there are a number of scientific
engineering, and just the question of giving loans to 150
million. So there are a variety of ways in which bilateral collaboration
could just push it to the front page. [The Chairman] Thank you. The Chair now recognizes the gentleman from
Missouri, Mr. Cleaver. [Mr. Cleaver] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize, I am running between committees.
I always like this committee and try to get here under almost
any circumstances because of how significant it
is. I walked in on this conversation. My family
is in Tanzania, Arusha, about 400 miles south of Nairobi and
at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. I stood out one evening
with one of my relatives, and we looked up at the moon. And
we could actually see the outline of craters. And I said to
him, you are fortunate in many ways over the Western World
because there is no pollution. I think, in Arusha, average
income is $1,500 a year; there may be 10 cars. I mean, if I am
underestimating, let’s say 100 cars on the high side, and yet
I get on this committee and start learning about the soot
that is there because my cousins cook outside. I mean, everybody
is cooking outside. In fact, my cousin, believe it or
not, in Africa is running a barbecue business, and so people
line up outside, and nobody is thinking about what is going on. But the concern I have is, it is low-hanging
fruit. We can probably eliminate that intrusion into the
atmosphere, black carbon, but how do we do it? It is something
that we know we can do if we can just change the culture and
also provide some kind of way for cooking that does not pollute,
but it is going to cost money. I am thinking about my cousin
or any of my relatives, they would easily probably go to
another form of cooking if they could afford it. And so, in the absence of having the money,
what do we do? I mean, is it something that the United States
and the polluters, the big polluters–India, China,
Europe–is that our responsibility, or are there any suggestions?
I will go tell them. You tell me what to do, and I will go
tell them. I know the mayor. Anybody. [Ms. Bond] First of all, this is a big problem,
of course. This is about half the people in the world.
And there are places to target first to move rapidly. One
of those areas is high-population density where that kind of
cooking leads to high concentrations and impacts on quite a
lot of people. And so it is easier to deliver to those groups
of people than it would be to deliver to your cousin, who has
a barbecue at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro–forgive me if I
have gotten your geography a bit wrong. [Mr. Cleaver] No, you are right. [Ms. Bond] Now, Mr. Markey asked about the
role of the United States. There is some funding needed,
but we are also in a really good position to develop enabling
technologies. For example, we find that a better stove can be
made not by making a great stove here and delivering it there
or by paying them to make a stove, but by developing capability
to build mass production for a combustion chamber so that
people there can build their own stoves, but the critical piece
is made possible. And so if you think of this as a large-scale
problem and we have to solve every single household, it seems
big and almost undoable. I think the role of the United States
can be in identifying targeted research and targeted
studies and targeted development for those things that are keeping
new, clean, better technologies from spreading. And I
don’t want to underestimate the role of clean fuels as well
as clean technology; clean fuel means not only modern
fuels, but also methods for working on crop waste and creating
pellets and that sort of thing. So I think we have the vision
and we have the capability and we have a history of identifying
those trigger points that make a big difference. [Mr. Ramanathan] May I add to that, Mr. Chairman? [Mr. Cleaver] Yes, please, Doctor. [Mr. Ramanathan] First thing to recognize
is that they are using the most environmental friendly fuel
because it is not adding carbon dioxide to the air if you are
cooking with crop residues and cow dung mixture. And the cost of these stoves is such that,
I think of, for example, India, 750 million depend on this,
150 million households. It is a $4 billion problem. So
to me, I think it is a solvable problem. You are not talking about
trillions. We are not talking about hundreds of billions; with
clever micro credits and others, we could distribute this. One thing I want to talk to you about is the
brown clouds or the haze you saw covering Kilimanjaro.
In Africa, part of the source of this black carbon is savanna
burning. [Mr. Cleaver] Is what? [Mr. Ramanathan] Savanna burning, so that
contributes quite a bit to that Africa-wide haze, plus the cooking,
both those sources. [Mr. Cleaver] Let me follow up. When I used to have knees, I could go up to
the top of Kilimanjaro, and if any of you have done it,
you know you start at the bottom, and you are in very tropical
clothing because the temperature is going to be at the century
mark. The higher you go, the colder it gets, and so you start
changing. By the time you get to the top, you are on snow.
That was a while back. Now you get to the top, and you may
see little sprinkles of snow. The snow on Kilimanjaro, it hasn’t
completely vanished, but it is going there. In reading through the testimony and becoming
a little more familiar with this issue, I started wondering,
in this land where the Kilimanjaro Airport is not far from
the mountain, and I am starting to think maybe more planes are
landing here, maybe that is what is doing the damage. Because
there is no industry. The industry there is the Western
World stealing all the water to do plants so that we can have
fresh plants in hotels every morning, but that is other another
whole issue. So I am wondering if what causes that haze
is the same thing that is causing the melting of the snow. [Mr. Ramanathan] I will comment on that. First,
you have to understand, when you see the haze above your
head, particularly if it is above a mile, it may have nothing
to do with the local source. These things transport over thousands
of kilometers. For example, in the dry season, between October
to April, the entire Arabian Sea and the North Indian
Ocean is filled with haze. It is transported both from the
South Asian side and from Africa. We have seen elevated regions
of the Himalayas covered with thick brown clouds. We have been
there. We have taken pictures with aircraft. So the issue of the whole Kilimanjaro, as
you know, its retreat, originally it used to be thought
it was all due to global warming. Now, some glaciologists have
estimated at least half of that, a lot of it is coming from really
what we call sublimation, just the air becoming dry and
the snow evaporating. So there are multiple causes happening in
Kilimanjaro, but I would point out, no one has taken a look
at really what this black carbon is doing to that retreat. It
is an area, new research to find out. But we know from satellite
images that soot looms hover around the Kilimanjaro region. [Mr. Cleaver] Dr. Shindell. [Mr. Shindell] I was going to comment on the
previous question a little bit, which was, if, say,
the Waxman-Markey bill becomes law in this country, there will
be a price on carbon, like there is in much of the world.
I would think that it is not necessarily a useful thing to link
funding that has been associated with the greenhouse gases
that are controlled under the Kyoto Protocol, the clean development
mechanism whereby the United States and other wealthy
countries pay for reductions in other countries; I don’t think
it makes sense to link those with the short-term pollutants
like black carbon because, as we have talked about, they operate
on very different time scales. But analogous sources, for example, there
was an editorial in the Wall Street Journal about a global
methane fund, where the U.S. could help other countries to pay
for reductions or a global black carbon fund. I think all of these
kind of ways that the United States can help the developing
world to do things, like intervene in residential cooking
stoves, are quite sensible, but I really think we need partners
there. I am chair of a United Nations environment
program assessment of the effects of black carbon
and ozone on climate. And what we are really trying to do is bring
in the developing world scientists, as Dr. Bond was mentioning,
and there is capacity there, too. I think if those scientists
are able to convince their countries that these things
are really in their own best interests because they are damaging
their ability to grow crops to feed their population and they
are affecting their development goals by air pollution–one
of the leading causes of adverse health impacts in the developing
world–if it is in their own interest and there is this
additional kind of carrot of having funding from developing nations
to help them do something about it, I think that is a combination
that would actually help to get something done. [Mr. Cleaver] It is a major challenge because
the people who live in this area, the Maasai Tribe, which
inhabits this particular area, they know nothing about global
warming. I mean, you may as well keep speaking English
because they have no idea what you are talking about when you
start talking about global warming because all they know is that
the snow on the mountain is not as thick as it used to be.
That is all they know. And they have not had any intellectual
conversations or debates about it, and nobody is bringing the
issue forth. It is a challenge to us because I think we are partially
responsible for much of what they experience. I simply
wanted to get some kind of reading on this because I guess maybe
I am personally involved in it and was hoping that–and I
still hold that hope–that the Waxman-Markey bill will be
approved, and if we need to tweak it later. I like a world black carbon fund idea. I think
if we tweak it later, it can be the major step to save
the planet. Anyway, thank you, Mr. Chairman. [The Chairman] Thank you, Mr. Cleaver, very
much. Here is what I am going to do; I am going
to ask each one of you to give us your 1-minute summation
of what it is that you want us to remember, which is a test because
you have a lot that you want us to know about these subjects.
We will go in the reverse order of the opening statements. And we will begin with you, Mr. Schneider. [Mr. Schneider] Mr. Chairman, thank you very
much. I am going to just tick off the policy pieces
that you really asked me to address today. The first one is funding through the climate
bill, if we are lucky enough to have one, funding for
the Diesel Emission Reduction Act and through the Jobs bill, a
reauthorization in funding, and funding through a transportation
bill, reauthorization, which requires clean construction
equipment and funds it as a part of that transportation
bill. And then, lastly, giving the EPA the regulatory
authority to cover more of the existing in-use diesels
that could require the use of today’s technology to reduce the
black carbon emissions from them. We have had a good discussion
just now about the cook stove issue; I am not going
to add to that. I do talk about the black carbon fund in my written
testimony, so I would refer you to that. And then, lastly, we haven’t talked as much
about the agriculture burning issue. That is an issue
that deserves more attention. It is going to require international
cooperation and enforcement of national laws in other countries
to really accomplish that, but we probably can’t get
the full benefits of black carbon reduction unless we address that. Thank you very much for the time today, I
appreciate it. [The Chairman] Dr. Shindell. [Mr. Shindell] Well, I would start by reiterating
that we have two problems: a long-term climate change
problem and a near-term climate change problem. And we can’t
deal with the long-term problem without beginning to reduce
carbon dioxide emissions as soon as possible. But for the near-term problem, I think that
consideration of the short-lived warming agents, as we are
talking about today, and not just black carbon, but also
methane, carbon monoxide and volatile organic carbons, which
are also emitted by similar processes–for example, the diesel
particulate filters we have been talking about substantially
reduce about 90 percent black carbon, but also carbon monoxide
and volatile organics. So if you target all of these as
a basket, you are likely to make more effective decisions, reductions
that can lead to significant improvements in air quality
as well as mitigating climate change. And I just repeat the summary of my testimony,
that reductions in emissions of products of incomplete
combustion will virtually always improve health. And
if targeting emissions that are rich in black carbon, carbon
monoxide, VOCs and methane, you can often find options whose
co-benefits are so large that they can simultaneously mitigate
climate change and improve air quality at substantially reduced
cost. [The Chairman] Thank you. Dr. Ramanathan. [Mr. Ramanathan] The Copenhagen Accord requires
us to limit climate change to less than 2 degrees from
pre-Industrial. We have already put enough greenhouse gases on
the planet, according to our climate models, they would
already warm the planet by 2 degrees. So we are losing time.
So we have a Herculean task in front of us to meet the
Copenhagen Accord, and I consider black carbon reductions as
an important component of our battle to meet that 2 degree
warming. Thank you. [The Chairman] Thank you. Dr. Bond. [Ms. Bond] Thank you very much. We have discussed some emission sources that
produce black carbon and other pollutants. And we have also
discussed how there is the long-term and the short-term
effect. What I really want you to think about is that we have a
portfolio of potential solutions that can address climate
change in the long term and the short term. So don’t think about
either/or; think about, how will we manage the atmospheric
trajectory during our lifetimes and your children’s lifetimes and
our grandchildren’s lifetimes? And our lifetime is a significant
component of that and of interest to many people. The United States has the opportunity to lead
in both technology and in engagement internationally
in this endeavor. There are ways to improve both climate and
human welfare at the same time. I will leave it there. We have
a lot in front of us, but we have a lot of solutions, and I think
we have a lot of opportunities. [The Chairman] Thank you very much. And a lot of opportunities to create new jobs,
a lot of opportunities to engage in technological transfer,
a lot of incredibly great side benefits from working
on this problem if we do so in a way that sees the opportunities
as well. We thank all of you for your tremendous testimony
and for your incredible work on this subject. That
is what made it possible for us to have this hearing today. With that, this hearing is adjourned. Thank
you. [Whereupon, at 11:40 a.m., the committee was
adjourned.]

7 comments

  1. The worst polluters in the world are China and India, and I do not see people dying there in droves. Look at all these overpaid, underworked assholes.

  2. @madisonelectronic first of all I am guessing you are not IN China or India so that's why you don't see people dying. Second of all, millions of people in China and India DO suffer from respiratory problems, and one of the leading causes of death among young children is illness such as pneumonia which is closely related to respiratory problems.
    I hope you will support the cheap solution of more efficient cookstoves even if you don't like the more expensive solutions.

  3. First the overpaid do- gooders are the people on the screen. And even though it is a generalization, Pakistan, India, China, and Russia have essentially told the world to go fuck themselves when it comes to pollution control. Pollution wackos then turn around and blame the USA for the worlds' ills. Maybe Al Gore will get involved, seeing he has taken in hundreds of millions with his global warming and carbon credit scams. You folks are like the gun haters. Nothing is ever enough.

  4. @MsTubbytube First the overpaid do- gooders are the people on the screen. And even though it is a generalization, Pakistan, India, China, and Russia have essentially told the world to go fuck themselves when it comes to pollution control. Pollution wackos then turn around and blame the USA for the worlds' ills. Maybe Al Gore will get involved, seeing he has taken in hundreds of millions with his global warming and carbon credit scams. You folks are like the gun haters. Nothing is ever enough

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