The US reached separate agreements with the G-20 and with China to address the rapid growth in the use and release of climate-damaging hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Two statements on HFCs were released today, one in the context of the G20 Leaders’ Declaration and one bilaterally with China.
First, G-20 leaders expressed their support for initiatives that are complementary to efforts under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs, while retaining HFCs within the scope of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol for accounting and reporting of emissions.
This was agreed by: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey,the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union, as well as Ethiopia, Spain, Senegal, Brunei, Kazakhstan, and Singapore.
Second, building on their 8 June accord on HFCs in Sunnylands, President Obama and President Xi agreed at their bilateral meeting as a next step on HFCs to establish a contact group under the Montreal Protocol to consider issues related to cost-effectiveness, financial and technology support, safety, environmental benefits, and an amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
HFCs are potent greenhouse gases used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and industrial applications. While they do not deplete the ozone layer, many are highly potent greenhouse gases whose use is growing rapidly as replacements for ozone-depleting substances being phased out under the Montreal Protocol. Left unabated, HFC emissions could grow to nearly 20% of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, a serious climate mitigation concern.
The Montreal Protocol was established in 1987 to protect the ozone layer. Every country in the world is a party to the Protocol, and it has successfully phased out or is in the process of phasing out several key classes of chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and halons. The transitions out of CFCs and HCFCs provide major ozone layer protection benefits, but the unintended consequence is the rapid current and projected future growth of climate-damaging HFCs.
For the past four years, the United States, Canada, and Mexico have proposed an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs. The amendment would reduce consumption and production and control byproduct emissions of HFCs in all countries, and includes a financial assistance component for countries that can already access the Protocol’s Multilateral Fund. The proposal leaves unchanged the reporting and accounting provisions of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol on HFC emissions.