Effort must be made to cut black carbon pollutants

Letter by Cathy Baiton, printed in the Lethbridge Herald (lethbridgeherald.com) Letters – March 6, 2012

Re: “Clinton, Kent announce modest global warming plan to reduce common pollutants” (Feb. 16, CP article, Lethbridge Herald)

The City of Lethbridge provides firewood for burning in this stove at a local park.

The City of Lethbridge provides firewood for burning in this stove at a local park.

Canada must make a serious effort in this international initiative. Black carbon (produced by incomplete burning of wood, coal/fossil fuels and other substances), along with other particles, is now considered a significant factor in climate change.

Much black carbon globally is from diesel exhaust, and biomass and other solid-fuel burning, including cooking fires in developing countries. North America and Europe emit a large amount yearly. A 2011 United Nations report reveals that wood burning and diesel vehicles are key sources of black carbon in the developed world. http://www.unep.org/dewa/Portals/67/pdf/Black_Carbon.pdf

Hopefully, nations will consider the UN report’s recommendations, which include phasing out log-burning stoves in rich countries, and banning open burning of agricultural waste. Municipal governments might also seek to implement applicable strategies at the community level.

As just one example, perhaps our local officials could move toward banning recreational outdoor burning in neighbourhoods. In 2012, so much more is known about why it is harmful, than back when bylaws permitting it were passed. Rather than advertisements outlining how many hours a day backyard fires are allowed, etc. – this year, what if the City of Lethbridge were to instead distribute information about the environmental and health impacts of wood smoke? This is one way in which the city could help protect clean air.

Why not foster updated policies conducive to caring for neighbours and the earth? Each region can do more to lower its own contribution to overall production of airborne particulates like soot.

Our federal government should take real action to cut recognized “climate forcing” pollutants, and encourage provincial/territorial and municipal governments to do the same.


Article: “UN – Curbing black carbon would bring dramatic, quick benefits to all” (Environment | The Guardian) http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/jun/14/black-carbon-emissions-benefits