US – China Agreement to cut super greenhouse gases opens door to climate mitigation to 2020
GLOBE-Net, June 17, 2013 – The US – China Agreement to use the Montreal Protocol to cut super greenhouse gases signed by U.S. President Obama and China’s President Xi on June 8th opens door to biggest climate mitigation contribution through to 2020.
The core element of the agreement is to “work together and with other countries through multilateral approaches that include using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs….”
[stextbox id=”custom” float=”true” width=”200″ bcolor=”add3d5″ bgcolor=”add3d5″ image=”null”]HFCs are known as super-greenhouse gases because many of these man-made chemicals have a global warming potential hundreds to thousands of times greater than CO2.[/stextbox]
“Reducing factory-made HFCs under the Montreal Protocol is the biggest, fastest, and cheapest climate mitigation available to the world today, and is essential for slowing down the punishing climate impacts the world is already experiencing, including super storms like Sandy,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development and an expert on the Montreal Protocol.
“The Montreal Protocol has already phased out 97 similar chemicals by nearly 100% and has the expertise and experience to immediately phase down HFCs”, Zaelke added.
“Phasing down HFC will avoid the equivalent of 100 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions, ten time more than the CO2 the Kyoto Protocol has avoided to date. This will avoid 0.5C in warming by the end of the century, a significant part of what the world needs to stay within the 2C red-line for irreversible climate change.”
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HCFs are the fastest growing greenhouse gases in the US, China, India, and the EU. If left unchecked, emissions of HFCs could grow to nearly 20% of CO2 by 2050 and 45% if CO2 emissions are limited in line with present international goals.
The first proposal to phase down HFC under the Montreal Protocol was submitted in 2009 by the Federated States of Micronesia, to protect countries most vulnerable to climate impacts, including low-lying islands and coastal countries already suffering from accelerating sea level rise, and agriculture-dependent countries of Asia and Africa already suffering drought and shifting rainfall.
For the past four years, the United States, Canada, and Mexico have proposed an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs. The amendment would gradually reduce consumption and production and control byproduct emissions of HFCs in all countries, and require reporting in these areas.
[stextbox id=”custom” float=”true” width=”200″ bcolor=”add3d5″ bgcolor=”add3d5″ image=”null”]More than 100 countries have signed on to declarations supporting action to reduce HFCs. Until the agreement between Obama and Xia, however, China had been one of the few countries blocking the consensus needed to pass the amendment. India and Brazil are the other blocking countries.[/stextbox]
The amendment includes a financial assistance component for countries that can already access the Protocol’s Multilateral Fund, and leaves unchanged the reporting and accounting provisions of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol on HFC emissions.
A recent study led by Professor V. Ramanathan of Scripps Institution of Oceanography found that cutting HFCs and the other short-lived climate pollutants, including black carbon, methane, and tropospheric (ground-level) ozone, can cut the annual rate of sea-level rise by a quarter and cumulative sea-level rise by 22% by the end of the century.
“The Obama-Xi deal provides political momentum that makes the HFC phase down under the Montreal Protocol all but inevitable,” said Zaelke.
“The HFC agreement also sets up the US and China to run the table on other short-lived climate pollutants.”
The White House statement on the US-China HFC agreement is here.
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