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Parliamentary questions
29 April 2005
Answer given by Mr Dimas on behalf of the Commission

1. The Commission is aware that the global dimming effect was recognized only recently as a surprising but important global phenomenon. A reduction of solar radiation is also observed in Antarctica showing that it is not only a regional effect. There are also important inter-linkages with climate change as documented in the following report: http://ccu.ei.jrc.it/ccu/Pubblications/aerosol_hearing_050131.pdf.

2. It is correct that these two sets of independent observations, i.e. observed reduced solar radiation and an observed reduction in water evaporation rate, seem to be correlated. However, the physical cause effect relationship is not yet fully understood.

3. The observations of a clearer sky over the United States (US) after 11 September 2001 illustrates that airplane emissions may contribute to global dimming. A dedicated scientific field study on the Maldives showed that (man-made) pollution plumes flowing out from India cause local dimming. These are only two examples of the large body of evidence that has been collected over the past two decades on the role of human activities on dimming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presented the current state of knowledge on the contributions of anthropogenic aerosols to global radiative forcing in its Third Assessment Report in 2001. The main concern is nevertheless the long-term climate impact due to emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and some other long-lived gases. The issue of air pollution and climate change has been addressed in a number of research projects under the Community research programs. Our understanding is that small airborne particles and also other air pollutants, such as ozone, both to a large extent due to human activities, are an important cause of climate change. However, the uncertainty on how strong the regional/global impact may be on regional/global climate is large and needs further research.

4. So far, there is little known about the effects of global dimming on the monsoon system. In particular, the combined effect of global dimming with increased greenhouse gas concentrations heating the atmosphere, on weather and precipitation has not yet been adequately studied.

5. Over the past decades, existing European Union (EU) air quality legislation has already led to a significant reduction of emissions of a number of aerosols that contribute to the dimming effect. Soon, the Commission intends to launch a new thematic strategy on air pollution that will strengthen EU action in this field. However, this particular type of air pollution effect is much more severe in some rapidly industrialising global regions. EU policy will therefore also be focusing on strengthening international co-operation. Therefore, the Commission has accepted to co-chair with the US a new Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution the purpose of which is, amongst others, to better understand the issues related to global dimming.

OJ C 299, 08/12/2006
Última actualización: 12 de junio de 2006Aviso jurídico