The Action

Why is black carbon a concern in the Arctic?

Black carbon or soot is produced by the incomplete burning of fossil fuels and biomass. These dark particles absorb heat from the sun, and when they land on snow and ice can increase rates of melting. Black carbon contributes significantly to overall climate warming in the Arctic and is an important air pollutant causing human health impacts.

What is the EU-funded action on black carbon in the arctic?

The European Union (EU)-funded  Action on Black Carbon was initiated in 2017. 

The initial EUA-BCA project was implemented between 2018 and 2020, to contribute to efforts to reduce black carbon emissions in the Arctic by:

  • Supporting the development of commitments and targets to limit production of Arctic black carbon, with a focus on the three regionally important human sources from Arctic nations (gas flaring from oil and gas fields, residential heating—including heating stoves and diesel fuel use—and maritime shipping); and
  • Enhancing international cooperation on black carbon policy in the Arctic region.

In 2022 a follow-up EU-funded project 'Arctic Black Carbon impacting on Climate and Air Pollution (ABC-iCAP)' was established to build on the earlier work.

The action aims to:

  • Improve the knowledge base on black carbon emissions that impact the Arctic,
  • Increase awareness and sharing knowledge,
  • Develop technical advice documents and scenario analyses, and
  • Support international cooperation on black carbon.

Why is the EU interested in taking action on black carbon in the Arctic?

The Arctic is a strategically important region and is experiencing dramatic, transformative impacts from climate change. The EU recognizes the importance of taking action now on black carbon to reduce its warming effect on the Arctic, improve air quality, and protect human health. Cost-effective technologies to reduce black carbon emissions already exist and can be implemented now.

How can the EU influence the actions of Arctic nations?

The eight Arctic nations—Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States—are all members of the Arctic Council. The EU is also represented on the Arctic Council by its three members (Denmark, Finland, Sweden) and seven official Observer nations. The EU itself has ad hoc Observer status on the Arctic Council. The EU Action supports the Arctic Council’s work, and will contribute to the climate and clean air policies and health benefits of Arctic and non-Arctic nations through measures to reduce black carbon emissions.

The EU will also coordinate its work under the Action with other relevant international efforts addressing black carbon, including those under the UN Economic Commission for Europe’s 'Air Convention' (Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution), the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Action will promote a future common direction for many nations and organizations to take action together to reduce black carbon emissions in the Arctic and its impacts related to climate change and human health.

      This project is funded by the European Union

      The ABC-iCAP will be implemented over two-years (2022–2023) supported by an EU Partnership Instrument grant of almost 820,000 EUR.

      Project contacts (further information)
      Russel Shearer; [email protected]
      AMAP Secretariat: Simon Wilson; [email protected]
      SYKE: Ville-Veikko Paunu; [email protected]