Kigali, October 15, 2016. Early this morning the world reached an agreement to phase-down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). It is one of the most significant actions governments have ever taken to protect the climate. HFCs are highly potent greenhouse gases that have a global warming potential 1000’s of times that of carbon dioxide (CO2).
“The world just got one step closer to keeping global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius,” said Marcelo Mena, CCAC Co-chair and Chile’s Vice-Minister of Environment. “And, when we can combine action to phase down HFCs with strengthened efforts on energy efficiency, we will also reduce air pollution, the number of deaths linked to poor air quality, and prevent damage to crops.”
Rita Cerutti, CCAC Co-chair and a senior official with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said the amendment showed that nations working together can achieve big wins for the climate and development.
“This amendment is a significant achievement, one which places us squarely on the right path to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement before it is too late. Parties to the Montreal Protocol have worked hard for this result, and the CCAC is proud to have been a part of this effort.”
Since its inception in 2012 the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) has led a global initiative to help countries transition away from high global-warming potential HFCs and minimize HFC leakages. Most recently Coalition ministers released a communique saying a HFC phase-down is “one of the quickest and most significant near-term opportunities to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, and make a major contribution to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement”.
The decision means developed countries start in 2019 with a freeze, which caps future growth, and an immediate 10% reduction. The progressive group of developing countries, which includes China, have a freeze date of 2024, and India and a few other countries have a freeze date of 2028.
Dr Guus Velders, from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in Uterecht, and colleagues projects that the Kigali agreement will avoid nearly 90 per cent of the temperature increase that HFCs could have caused (see graph).
“We came to take a half a degree Celsius out of future warming, and we won about 90% of our climate prize… we’ll get the rest through market forces,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “The Montreal Protocol has always catalyzed market transformation faster than the mandated dates for phase-outs. It’s also always been a start and strengthen treaty, and I’m confident in its power to get all the climate mitigation available.”
The Kigali Amendment is a huge victory for Africa, who was a critical player in achieving an ambitious agreement.
“The Kigali Amendment is the most significant climate mitigation step the world has ever taken, and brings us closer to staying below 1.5°C,” said Vincent Biruta, President of the Meeting of the Parties, and Minister of Natural Resources for Rwanda.
“The march towards Marrakesh began today in Kigali with the decision to eliminate warming from HFCs. This is the most important step on the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Today we agreed on mandatory obligations in order to phase down a super greenhouse gas and we will do it using a tool that has always delivered, the Montreal Protocol,” said Hakima El Haite, Minister of Energy, Water, and Environment Morocco and COP22 High-Level Champion. “Concrete global action at scale has begun, and we are not turning back.”
US Secretary of State, John Kerry said, “An ambitious HFC amendment is likely the single most important step that we could take at this moment to limit the warming of our planet and protect the planet for future generations to come. No country has a right to turn its back on this effort.”
The CCAC will continue to support country efforts to survey their HFC use to find the most cost-effective and relevant sectors to reduce HFC consumption and to support the uptake of HFC alternative technology.
Used commonly in air conditioning, refrigeration and a host of industrial products, HFCs are powerful factory-made greenhouse gases for which demand is continually increasing. Without this phase-down, HFCs would amount to an estimated 9-19% of total CO2 emissions by 2050.
A fast HFC phasedown avoids 100 billion tons of CO2-equivalent by 2050 and 0.5⁰C warming by 2100 – nearly 10% of the mitigation needed to stay below the 2⁰C level established as the outer limit in the Paris Agreement last year - and is crucial for keeping the Earth’s temperature increase below 1.5⁰C.
An HFC phase down can have an increased climate benefit if combined with measures to improve the energy efficiency of HFC-containing equipment. If the average efficiency of air conditioners sold in 2030 is improved by 30%, in parallel with low Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants, emissions can be reduced by up to 25 billion tonnes of CO2 over the lifetime of the equipment.
Many CCAC partners were involved in producing studies, policy exchanges and demonstration projects to ensure the amendment would be adopted. Earlier in the month, a group of donor countries (all CCAC partners) and philanthropic organizations pledged $80 million to support countries implementing the amendment.
Momentum builds for an ambitious HFC phase-down amendment to the Montreal Protocol: http://ccacoalition.org/en/news/momentum-builds-ambitious-hfc-phase-down-amendment-montreal-protocol
HFC initiative page: http://www.ccacoalition.org/en/initiatives/hfc
Vienna communique: http://ccacoalition.org/en/resources/vienna-communique
Tiy Chung, CCAC Communications Officer: email@example.com, (M) +33 626717981, (W) +33 144371421