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Assessing Opportunities to Mitigate Black Carbon Emissions in South Asia

Black carbon markings above a traditional cookstove in India.
Black carbon markings above a traditional cookstove in India.
Photo credit: Nimmi Damodaran, Abt Associates. Black carbon is a byproduct of incomplete fuel combustion that remains suspended in the air for up to a few weeks. It is a short-lived climate pollutant that is estimated to contribute more to global warming than any other pollutant except carbon dioxide. It is also a component of particulate matter, and contributes to all the same adverse health impacts as fine particulate matter, such as premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

At the global level, approximately two-thirds of black carbon emissions come from the transportation, industrial, and residential sectors combined. Fortunately, cost-effective emissions mitigation opportunities exist in each of these sectors. These mitigation opportunities can generate significant health, environmental, and economic cobenefits.

Abt Associates assisted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in identifying and evaluating opportunities to mitigate black carbon emissions from the transportation, industrial, and residential sectors in South Asia, with a particular focus on India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. This assessment involved collecting data from a range of sources and synthesizing information on best practices. Abt identified several mitigation opportunities for each sector, such as using cleaner fuels, more efficient technologies, and better operating practices in brick production.

As part of this study, Abt assisted in facilitating a workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal in March 2011. The workshop brought together stakeholders from across South Asia and multiple sectors to discuss opportunities and barriers to addressing black carbon emissions.

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