Blog: Dave LeggettDiesel particulates and global warming

Dave Leggett | 6 November 2003

Glenn Mercer from McKinsey has got back to me with an academic paper that describes research apparently indicating that diesel particulates have a bigger global warming effect than CO2 emissions from gasoline-engined cars. Author of the paper published by the Journal of Geophysical Research (Vol. 107) is Mark Z. Jacobson of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California. To be frank, and as a non-scientist, reading the dry and equation-infused article made my small and inadequate brain hurt. However, this is the research conclusion pertaining to diesel emissions from cars:

'Calculations also suggest diesel cars emitting continuously under the most recent U.S. and E.U. particulate standards may warm climate per distance driven over the next 100+ years more than do equivalent gasoline cars. If the estimates here are correct, fuel and carbon tax laws that favor diesel promote global warming. Toughening particulate emission standards to 0.006 g/km (0.01 g/mi), which is planned for California by 2004, does not change the conclusion, but it shortens the period over which diesel causes net warming to 13–54 years.'

Crikey. If anyone wants a copy of the full paper, e-mail me at


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