New Front Launched in Battle Against Global Warming: Initiative Seeks Fast Action on HFCs, Black Carbon and Methane to Buttress Efforts for Climate, Public Health and Food Security

Feb 16, 2012, 14:47 ET from Environmental Investigation Agency

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Six nations joined UNEP today in announcing a new international effort to pursue action to limit non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions.  In the wake of the Durban negotiations that largely deferred action on an international climate agreement until 2020, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Limit Short-term Pollutants is being initiated to combat non-CO2 emissions responsible for up to a third of global warming.

Scientists have warned that action on global warming cannot wait until 2020, and that the severity and onset of climate change can be significantly mitigated by limiting emissions of HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons), black carbon, and methane. Reductions to these short lived climate pollutants (SLCP) will also manifest immediate benefits for human health, the environment and food security by eliminating respiratory pollutants, and by stabilizing weather patterns and water supplies.

Among the options available for action on SLCPs, the phase-out of HFCs that are intentionally produced primarily for use in refrigeration and air conditioning stands apart as the most robust and cost-effective prospect for significant action.  Known as "super" greenhouse gases because they are hundreds to thousands of times more powerful warming agents than CO2, HFCs are the last generation of fluorinated gases that are collectively responsible for one sixth of all human caused global warming.

"The phase-out of HFCs currently being considered by the Montreal Protocol could prevent over 100 billion ton of CO2 equivalent emissions (GtCO2e) by 2050 which is about three years of total global emissions from fossil fuels", said Mark Roberts, International Policy Advisor for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).  He continued, "Phasing out HFCs would eliminate one of the six classes of greenhouse gases and buy the world critical time to address other emissions". 

Currently some 110 nations support action by the Montreal Protocol on HFCs, but China and India have opposed action on HFCs for over three years even though donor nations have offered to finance the transition to climate-safe natural refrigerants.  The total cost of phasing-out HFCs and preventing 100 GtCO2e is estimated at $5-$10 billion US as compared to US $30+ billion for a single gigaton of reductions under the UNFCCC/Kyoto process.

"Eliminating HFCs is the most achievable, cost-effective near-term prospect for meaningful action on climate, especially as viable alternatives already exist", said Samuel LaBudde, Senior Atmospheric Campaigner with EIA.  "The world must act immediately to stop the intentional manufacture of the most powerful climate forcers known to science if there is going to be any real hope of halting climate change".

For more information on HFCs and the Montreal Protocol:

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SOURCE Environmental Investigation Agency