Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Phase-out of “Super” Greenhouse Gases Through the Montreal Protocol Might Limit Climate Change

A report by the non-profit Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) says that using the Montreal Protocol ozone treaty to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), chemicals that are now being used in refrigerators and air conditioners as a substitute for chemicals that are responsible for the ozone hole, could be a major step in the fight against global warming. In an article from the Inter Press Service News Agency, a senior U.S. climate campaigner from EIA is quoted as saying that “An HFC phase-down under the Montreal Protocol will do far more for climate protection than the Kyoto Protocol has accomplished in its entire history or than Copenhagen will achieve in the next decade.” The HCFs are called “super” greenhouse gases because these molecules can trap hundreds or thousands of times more heat than carbon dioxide. Phasing out HFCs is particularly important when considering projections of increased use of refrigerators and air conditioners in China and India between now and the year 2050. According to the EIA report, phasing out HFCs by 2050 would be the same as preventing from 118 to 224 billion tons of carbon dioxide being released. The G8 countries have made a commitment to phase-down HFCs. The members of the Montreal treaty next meet in November. So even with all the controversy over climate legislation in the U.S. and the bleak outlook for a global agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Copenhagen maybe progress will still be made toward limiting climate change before it is too late.

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