The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Black carbon pollution, from diesel engines, heavy industry and other sources, has a double warming effect, first in the atmosphere and then again when it settles, darkening white ice and accelerating melting, to disastrous effect. The Arctic’s indigenous people—who have relied on a cold environment for millennia—as well as iconic wildlife like polar bears and caribou, are all in jeopardy.
Leading scientists also warn that this process is endangering the entire planet: Arctic warming and melting cause more extreme weather in the mid-latitudes and sea level rise that will have catastrophic consequences for low-lying coastal communities around the world.
Significant global reductions in black carbon and other short-lived climate pollutants can slow temperature rise by as much as 0.5°C by 2040, and slow the rate of Arctic warming by as much as two-thirds by 2040.
Earthjustice is working to reduce black carbon emissions by:
- Advising the Arctic Athabaskan Council, which is a member of the Arctic Council, a multi-nation group that consists of the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and six indigenous peoples’ organizations. The Arctic Council is negotiating a circumpolar agreement to reduce black carbon emissions in the eight Arctic nations, which could slow regional warming—and the global consequences—significantly. As the Athabaskan Council’s legal representative, we are working to:
- Draft formal submissions to the Task Force on objectives, structure and oversight processes,
- Advocate for transparency in reporting and oversight mechanisms, and
- Advocate for high standards, best available technologies, and best practices in reporting standards.
- Advocating for a strong stance on black carbon in the Obama administration’s National Strategy for the Arctic Region, a critical goal in positioning the U.S. as an international leader on black carbon reductions. The U.S. assumes the chair of the Arctic Council in 2014; we will work with indigenous and environmental organization allies to ensure that the U.S. uses its influence to push for strong action to reduce emissions.