Diesel engine exhaust has long been known to promote cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. A new understanding of one of the components of diesel exhaust shows it is also a powerful driver of climate change, with black carbon particles 3,200 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide in the near-term. By controlling the dangerous components in diesel exhaust, as many OECD countries have done, we get co-benefits: reduced harm to both health and climate.
“Addressing these emissions is a possible win-win. It’s not only about health but potential climate benefits as well,” said World Bank Senior Environment Specialist Sameer Akbar, who led a new report examining the co-benefits of reducing diesel emissions for development and climate action.
In the near term, reducing the amount of black carbon emitted into the environment can slow the rate of global temperature increase.
A number of OECD countries have already cut these emissions dramatically. However, in low- and middle-income countries, where the majority of all black carbon is emitted, emissions are expected to grow as economies develop. Transportation accounts for nearly 20 percent of global black carbon emissions and most of it is estimated to come from older diesel engines without emission control equipment and using high sulfur diesel fuel in low- and middle-income countries. These countries have the opportunity to learn from the experience of OECD countries in reducing emissions, and achieve significant benefits for both climate and health.
To help decision makers estimate the benefits of diesel emission controls, the World Bank has published a new study, Reducing Black Carbon Emissions from Diesel Vehicles: Impacts, Control Strategies, and Cost-Benefit Analysis.
The study, conducted by the International Council for Clean Transportation, summarizes a series of technical and policy options already demonstrated to cut the health and climate risks from diesel emissions. It also introduces a new analytical framework to monetize the benefits of black carbon emissions reduction.