Press release

Black Carbon Expert Tami Bond Awarded 2014 MacArthur "Genius" Grant

Today the ICCT celebrates the announcement that Tami Bond, a professor at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and international expert on black carbon, has been awarded a 2014 fellowship by the MacArthur Foundation. Black carbon is produced by diesel engines, among other sources, and is not only harmful to breathe but also contributes to global climate change. Prof. Bond has provided invaluable expertise to the ICCT on black carbon in the transportation sector. We congratulate her for this significant recognition of her work.

Otherwise known as the MacArthur “Genius” grant, the fellowship provides $625,000 to each recipient with no strings attached. ICCT Founding Chairman Michael Walsh received a fellowship in 2005 for his work to reduce the impact of vehicle emissions on air quality and public health.

Prof. Bond was an active participant in our 2009 International Workshop on Black Carbon, which provided the impetus for the Bounding Black Carbon Study she led and ultimately published in 2013. The work was co-authored by an array of international experts, some of whom had published divergent views on black carbon and whose participation contributed to the sense of consensus the policy community needed. This study closed a key gap in our knowledge around uncertainties in the radiative forcing of black carbon and in estimates of global warming potential, which help us understand the contribution of black carbon to global climate change. One conclusion of the study is that black carbon is the second largest contributor from human activities to present-day radiative forcing, the cause of global temperature change.

Prof. Bond has published a widely cited global emissions inventory of black carbon, based on her emissions model affectionately called SPEW, or Speciated Pollutant Emission Wizard. Results from this work published in 2004 and in 2007 form the basis for global black carbon emission estimates and projections used in IPCC AR5 scenarios of future climate change, the US EPA Report to Congress on Black Carbon, and a multitude of other climate modeling and air quality studies. The ICCT has collaborated with her research group on deriving from SPEW a set of emission factors for fine particulate matter, black carbon and organic carbon for specific vehicle emission standards. These are incorporated not only into our own Roadmap model for vehicle emissions at the global scale, but also in our report for the World Bank published in 2014 on diesel black carbon emission controls in developing countries.

Prof. Bond participated in our 2009 International Workshop on Black Carbon in London, our 2009 Workshop on Black Carbon in Latin America co-hosted with the Mexican government, and our black carbon panel co-hosted with the US EPA at the 2010 International A&WMA workshop in Xi’an, China. Our technical and policy work on black carbon emissions in the context of international shipping has drawn heavily from her 2006 investigation into the definition of black carbon and informed our guidance to the International Maritime Organization in the context of its workplan to address the impact of black carbon on the Arctic. Prof. Bond provided one of the early peer-reviewed estimates of global warming potential for black carbon ahead of the IPCC, and she has returned to the GWP question multiple times in 2007, 2011 and finally again in 2013 with values that have now been adopted by the IPCC. And in recent year’s Prof. Bond’s research group has published a new set of emission projections of particulate matter from the global transportation fleet, and highlighted key uncertainties in global vehicle emissions projections including the effects of fleet retirement, vehicle maintenance, vehicle degradation, and vehicle technology.

Diesel engines account for more than 95 percent of black carbon emissions in the transportation sector and nearly 20 percent of global black carbon emissions. Diesel black carbon can be controlled by reducing sulfur content of diesel fuel down to 10 or 15 parts per million and requiring vehicles to meet stricter emission limits. These emission limits can force the installation of a particulate filter on new diesel vehicles or a shift to cleaner burning engines; they are supplemented by programs that force the scrappage or retrofit of old, high emitting vehicles with cleaner ones. Policies in the United States, Europe and elsewhere are already contributing to a decline in global diesel black carbon emissions, but the decline will be short-lived unless China, India, Mexico, Brazil and other rapidly growing nations follow through with equivalent actions. Through changes in national policy, the ICCT estimates they could reduce diesel black carbon an additional 80 percent globally and avoid an additional 200,000 premature deaths in 2030.

GHG emissions