Finland president calls for Arctic Council to reduce black carbon emissions

Black carbon emissions dirty ice and snow in the region and contribute to global warming.

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Finnish President Sauli Niinisto attends a news conference in Helsinki, Finland March 26, 2018. (Lehtikuva / Emmi Korhonen via Reuters)

In a meeting Wednesday, Finland president Sauli Niinisto called on the Arctic Council to cut down on black carbon emissions in the region.

According to YLE News, Niinisto made the remarks while speaking to 500 international and domestic experts at the Finnish Climate Summit. He asked for a high-level commitment from the eight members of the Council to reduce the soot deposits that land on Arctic ice. Finland is currently the chair of the Arctic Council.

Black carbon is the black matter produced from gas and diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and other fossil fuel burning. It can cause warming in the atmosphere by absorbing and trapping heat, as well as accelerate melting when it lands on snow and ice. It only lingers in the atmosphere for a short time, unlike carbon dioxide, which means reducing these black carbon emissions can have an immediate impact on both the environment and humans living in the Arctic.

“If we are able to cut down black carbon emissions — for instance from maritime transport, from old-fashioned power plants and from flaring in oil and gas fields — we will make a significant contribution to combating climate change in the Arctic. And saving the Arctic is essential in saving the globe,” Niinisto said, according to YLE News.

Last year, the Arctic Council committed to reducing black carbon emissions between 25 and 33 percent below the 2013 levels by 2025. This reduction was recommended by the Arctic Council’s Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane.

“This is the first ever collective goal on black carbon. While several Arctic States have already drastically reduced ‎black carbon emissions, as a region all have resolved to collectively further reduce their emissions,” Rita Cerutti, co-chair of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, said in a statement after the targets were announced.

In April, the International Maritime Organization — the UN body that regulates shipping — agreed to ban heavy fuel oil, a source of black carbon emissions, from the Arctic.