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When air pollution hurts people’s health and heats up the climate it makes sense to do something about it. But what about pollution that cools the planet?

AN IDEAL fossil-fuel power-plant would produce power, carbon dioxide and nothing more. Less-than-ideal ones—not to mention other devices for the combustion of carbon, from diesel generators to brick kilns and stoves burning dung—also emit various gases and gunk. These often cause local environmental problems, damaging lungs, hurting crops and shortening lives. And some of the gunk, notably soot or “black carbon”, can warm the planet, too.

Next week ministers attending the governing council of...

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