Sunday, September 25, 2016

100 Countries Push to Phase Out HFCs

Window air conditioners (Credit: zeevveez/flickr) Click to Enlarge.
A loose coalition of more than 100 countries, including the U.S. and European nations, is pushing for an early phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a powerful greenhouse gas that if left unchecked is set to add a potentially disastrous 0.5°C to global temperatures by the end of the century.

At a meeting in New York on Thursday, world leaders called for an “ambitious phase-down schedule” for HFCs, which are commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioning systems, and pledged adaptation money for developing nations where HFC use is rapidly increasing.

“The growth in some HFCs is extraordinarily fast right now so it’s critical that we have an ambitious agreement,” a White House official told the Guardian.  “This is an extraordinarily important opportunity.”

Concerns over the gaping ozone hole over Antarctica spurred countries to agree to phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), an ozone-depleting gas found in fridges and aerosols, in the 1987 Montreal Protocol.

While this proved successful – scientists recently forecast the ozone layer may well be completely healed by the middle of the century – CFCs have been routinely replaced by HFCs, which trap thousands of times more heat in the Earth’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Their growing use in developing countries could mean they account for nearly 20 percent of all emissions by 2050.  The replacement of HFCs could prove crucial if the world is to avoid dangerous runaway climate change, driven by a temperature rise of 2°C or more.

The new coalition of nations, which will push for an early phase-out of HFCs at a gathering in Rwanda next month, includes the U.S., all 28 European Union nations, all 54 countries in Africa and South American nations including Argentina and Colombia.

Read more at 100 Countries Push to Phase Out HFCs

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