Monday, October 24, 2016

Kigali Amendment Cuts Use of HFCs

One hundred ninety-seven countries attended the Kigali, Rwanda summit to amend the Montreal Protocol cutting the use of hydrofluorocarbons commonly used in refrigeration and that significantly contribute to global warming. HFCs are the fastest growing greenhouse gas, growing at a rate of 10% per year.  Miraculously on October 15, 2016 they agreed to phase out the use of these damaging chemicals after seven years of negotiations. Some legal experts say the amendment will require Senate ratification because the Montreal Protocol that went into effect in 1989 is legally binding on signatories.  That may prove problematical for the next Occupant unless control of the Senate flips to the other side of the aisle.  The amendment is expected to take effect on January 1. 2019.  India led the negotiations on this landmark international accord.

China and India, as developing economies in hot climates, are the leading producers of HFCs.  China agreed to cut its use by 85% over the baseline of 2020-22 by 2045.  India will reduce its use by 85% over a baseline established during 2024-26.  The negotiated arrangement will give these countries time to develop alternatives to a gas that is many times more powerful in trapping heat than carbon dioxide.  HFCs were created as a substitue for florocarbons found to be depleting Earth's ozone layer that protects it from harmful cosmic radiation.  The UN called the agreement the single largest contribution (estimated at 0.5 degree) towards meeting the world's goal of keeping average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius agreed upon at the Paris climate summit last year.