- The United States has joined with Canada and Mexico in formally supporting a proposal to curtail production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a decision that has been hailed as enlightened to meeting the global warming challenges.
The US State Department said the three nations detailed a schedule that if adopted will authorise the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer to limit and ratchet down international production and use of HFCs.
"This is precisely the type of innovative and enlightened approach needed to meet the challenge of global warming," according to Samuel LaBudde, US Director of Climate Policy for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) - which first proposed and has been working to move HFCs under the Montreal Protocol for two years. "A rapid phase-out of HFCs is easily the most significant, achievable and cost-effective strategy for near-term mitigation of climate change," added Mr LaBudde.
The North American action follows a joint proposal submitted earlier this year by Micronesia and Mauritius that similarly called for expanding the Montreal Protocol's scope to include chemicals that do not impact the ozone layer but do contribute to global warming. Because HFCs are used as replacements for ozone depleting substances and have global warming potentials up to hundreds or thousands of times greater than CO2, their soaring growth for use in refrigerators and air conditioners threatens to negate the benefits that might be obtained from reducing other greenhouse gas emissions.
"An HFC phase out is absolutely essential to the success of global climate protection, particularly in light of the refusal of some nations to commit to emissions reductions at Copenhagen," said Mr LaBudde. "The need for action on HFCs is clear, the alternatives are available, and now it appears the political will exists for solving a critical aspect of global warming within a forum that has never failed and already includes every nation on Earth."
Although most nations have not yet taken official positions, support for regulating HFCs under the Montreal Protocol is widespread and growing. With 195 member nations including China and India, and widely regarded as the most successful environmental accord in history, the Montreal Protocol's full Conference of the Parties takes place in Egypt this November.
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