Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Developing World Is Key Driver of Global Spike in Heat-Trapping HFCs, Study Finds

Recent Trends in Global Emissions of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons and Hydrofluorocarbons: Reflecting on the 2007 Adjustments to the Montreal Protocol (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
A significant portion of the world's emissions of heat-trapping gases emitted by air conditioners, refrigeration and other applications comes from the developing world, finds a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In addition, developed nations are making mistakes when reporting emissions of the gases, called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the study finds.

The study follows international negotiations last week in Bangkok, Thailand, where nations discussed the phaseout of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, a global treaty meant to protect the planet's ozone layer.  Since the protocol was set up in 1987, emissions of ozone-damaging chemicals like HCFCs have fallen drastically.

But, unexpectedly, the chemicals have been replaced with HFCs, which are potent, short-lived greenhouse gases with global warming potentials hundreds to thousands of times that of carbon dioxide.  Nations are scrambling to curb HFC emissions under the Montreal Protocol, which would equal the climate benefits of removing 30 billion cars by 2050.

In recent years, global air monitoring networks have shown rising levels of HFCs in the atmosphere, but developed nations claim responsibility for 60 percent of those emissions.

This means one of two things:  developed nations are underreporting their emissions, or developing nations -- which do not report their HFC emissions to the United Nations -- are making up the gap.

The PNAS study finds that the latter is the case.

"The bottom line of the new paper is that the very large gap in reported HFC emissions is from developing countries," said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD), who was unaffiliated with the study.

Read more at Developing World Is Key Driver of Global Spike in Heat-Trapping HFCs, Study Finds

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