Nations Closing in on Control of Super Greenhouse Gas
Cutting HFCs under Montreal Protocol avoids 0.5°C of warming by end of the century
Successful amendment will boost Paris prospects for UN climate agreement in December
Paris, France, 24 July 2015 – As midnight approached, the Parties to the Montreal Protocol took the unusual step of suspending, rather than adjourning, their Working Group meeting, to ensure they would be able to finalize terms for negotiating the final agreement to phasedown the refrigerants known as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, before the treaty’s annual meeting in Dubai 1 to 5 November. The date for resumption of the Working Group meeting has not been set yet.
After years of resistance, first from China and India, and more recently from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, there are no longer any Parties remaining in the way to an agreement on the path forward for formal negotiations to phase down these super greenhouse gases this year during the November meeting.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” said IGSD President, Durwood Zaelke, who was participating in the Paris meeting that concluded a few minutes before midnight Friday night. “This is the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for, and opens the way to concluding the HFC amendment at the November Meeting of the Parties in Dubai, which will provide climate mitigation equivalent of 100 (87-146) billion tonnes of CO2 by mid-century, and avoid up to 0.5°C of warming by the end of the century.” IGSD's Press Release is here.
Improving Air Conditioner Efficiency Could Avoid Up To 100 Billion Tonnes of CO2
Parallel phase down of HFC refrigerants more than doubles total mitigation
Dual strategy critical for avoiding 2°C barrier
Paris, France, 21 July 2015 – Improving the energy efficiency of room air conditioners to the level of efficient units already on the market can provide climate mitigation up to 100 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2050, a substantial part of the mitigation needed to keep the planet from warming more than 2°C above pre-Industrial levels.
In 2030 efficiency improvements could avoid up to ~25 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions, ~32.5 billion tonnes in 2040, and ~40 billion tonnes in 2050, for a cumulative savings up to 97.5 billion tonnes of CO2, according to researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in California. The researchers calculate that the savings in peak demand could be equal to 500-1200 gigawatts (GW) of electricity, which would avoid (or free up for other uses), an amount of electricity equal to the production from between 1,000 and 2,500 medium-sized (500 MW) peak-load power plants by 2050.
“Improving energy efficiency of air conditioners can at least double the mitigation from phasing down the refrigerant known as HFCs, as most Parties to the Montreal Protocol are eager to do through an amendment this year,” said IGSD President, Durwood Zaelke. “The proposed HFC amendment would avoid the equivalent of another 100 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2050, and perhaps much more, and would avoid up to 0.5°C of warming by end of century. Leapfrogging over HFCs into climate-friendly alternatives during the ongoing phaseout of HCFCs under the Montreal Protocol would add an additional 39 to 64 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent; this could bring the total mitigation up to 250 to 300 billion tonnes CO2-equivalent by 2050 from a dual strategy to phase down HFCs while improving air conditioning efficiency,” Zaelke added. Read IGSD's Press Release here.
HFC Reduction One of 10 Key Actions for Climate Protection and Economic Growth
New Climate Economy Report Calls for Phase Down of HFCs Under Montreal Protocol
7 July 2015 – Phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol is one of the top ten strategies for keeping the climate from warming less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels while also promoting strong economic growth and development, according to the New Climate Economy report released today.
The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, chaired by former Mexican President Felipe Calderón and comprised of 28 global leaders drawn from 20 countries, identified 10 key actions designed to guide countries on methods to drive economic growth and development while achieving as much as 96% of the greenhouse emissions reductions needed by 2030 to keep global warming under 2°C. In the final report the commission recommended that “the Parities to the Montreal Protocol approve an amendment to phase down the production and the use of HFCs.”
The New Climate Economy report also recognized energy efficiency measures as another key action to drive growth and reduce emissions, stating “energy efficiency investments could boost cumulative economy output by US $18 trillion by 2035, increasing growth by 0.25-1.1% per year.” Read IGSD’s Press Release here.
EPA Bans HFCs with Final SNAP Rule
Washington, DC, 2 July 2015 – The US EPA took strong action today to ban and otherwise restrict the use of HFCs used in refrigeration, air conditioning, and foam and aerosol products. The EPA rule declares as “unacceptable” various HFCs and HFC-containing blends when used in applications where superior substitutes are now available, with lower overall risk to human health and the climate. HFCs are increasing more quickly in the U.S. than any other greenhouse gas and are increasing global rate of 10-15%. U.S. emissions are projected to double by 2020 and triple by 2030.
“The President’s climate team is on a roll with their actions to cut HFC at home and abroad,” said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. “The President’s strong actions on HFCs today, give him the credibility he needs to demand that the rest of the world phase down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.” The next round of negotiations under the Montreal Protocol are scheduled for late July in Paris, with the final Meeting of the Parties scheduled for the first week of November in Dubai. IGSD’s Press Release is here.
U.S., Brazil Agree to Phase Down HFCs under Montreal Protocol
Presidents Rousseff and Obama agree to “promptly” consider HFC amendment
Washington, DC, 30 June 2015 – President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and President Barack Obama agreed today to work together to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, stating:
“The Presidents, recognizing the importance of managing hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), agreed to work multilaterally in the Montreal Protocol to consider promptly amendment proposals to phase down HFCs.”
“President Obama understands that success with HFCs will be a powerful down payment on the Paris climate deal anticipated in December, and he’s made it a personal priority to finish the HFC amendment this year when the Montreal Protocol parties meet the first week of November,” said IGSD President, Durwood Zaelke. Read IGSD’s Press Release here.
Urgenda v. The State of the Netherlands Summary
Wednesday, 26 June 2015, the Hague District Court in the Netherlands issued a groundbreaking decision, declaring that the Dutch government has a legal obligation to prevent dangerous climate change and recognizing the need for speed to avoid “hazardous climate change.” The ruling requires that the Dutch government adopt more stringent climate policies to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 25% below 1990 levels in the next five years. This is the first time that a court has legally required a State to take precautions against climate change.
Notably, the court pointed out that under the government’s current policy, the Netherlands was on track to reduce CO2 emissions by 17% below 1990 levels by 2020, which complied with its international obligations under the Kyoto protocol and European Union targets. However, the court agreed with Urgenda, that according to the 2013 UNEP Emissions Gap Report, postponing mitigation is costlier than early action, and risks failing to meet the 2°C target entirely. The court emphasized that postponement “will cause a cumulation effect, which will result in higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere in comparison to a more even procentual or linear decrease of emissions starting today.”
The court buttressed its decision by arguing the Dutch government, regardless of any international agreement, owes a duty to its people and to the globe to immediately mitigate climate change. The recently published Oslo Principles on Global Climate Change Obligations stated: “No single source of law requires States and enterprises to [unilaterally fight climate change].
“Shadow of climate liability has now grown darker in boardrooms around world thanks to Dutch case,” commented IGSD President, Durwood Zaelke. Read IGSD's full summary here.
Pope Calls for Fast Action on Climate Change to Aid Poor and Vulnerable
Reduction of Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Will Slow Sea-Level Rise and Other Powerful Feedback Mechanisms
Vatican, 18 June 2015 – The Pope’s efforts to protect climate and the environment, especially for the world’s most poor and vulnerable peoples, depends on the success of urgent action including reduction of both short-lived climate pollutants and long-lived CO2 emissions. The encyclical released today, cites the large spectrum of health effects and millions of premature deaths, in particular to the most poor, caused by air pollution including black carbon emissions or “smoke,” another short-lived climate pollutant. According to the (CCAC) “targeting methane and black carbon rich sources, which if deployed globally by 2030 could avoid about 0.5°C of additional warming by 2050, prevent approximately 2.4 million deaths annually…and avoid about 50 million tonnes of lost crop yields by reducing concentrations of ground level ozone.”
The mitigation of short-lived climate pollutants, which includes methane, black carbon, HFCs and ground-level ozone, the main component of urban smog, is estimated to have the potential to reduce cumulative sea-level rise by 22–42% by end of the century and reduce the near-term risk of setting off more powerful feedback mechanisms, such as the melting of permafrost and the release of methane, which then accelerates global warming. The encyclical warns that, “a rise in the sea level, for example, can create extremely serious situations, if we consider that a quarter of the world’s population lives on the coast or nearby, and that the majority of our megacities are situated in coastal areas.”
“Pope Francis understands the positive impact that cutting short-lived climate pollutants will have on the poor and the vulnerable. Reduction of short-lived climate pollutants will reduce the immediate damages of climate change, including sea-level rise and extreme weather conditions that are most often suffered by the poorest populations,” said Romina Picolotti, former Minister of Environment from Argentina and CCAC NGO Representative. Read IGSD’s Press Release Here.
G7 Urges Phase Down of HFCs under Montreal Protocol This Year
Urges donors to assist with fast implementation
Bavaria, Germany, 8 June 2015 - The Group of Seven leaders agreed today to “continue our efforts to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and call on all Parties to the Montreal Protocol to negotiate an amendment this year to phase down HFCs and on donors to assist developing countries in its implementation.”
“The amendment will deliver the biggest single piece of climate mitigation in the near term,” said IGSD President, Durwood Zaelke. “When expected energy efficiency gains from air conditioners and other appliances are added, this strategy becomes even more compelling.”
According to the White House fact sheet, “Consistent with the goal of reducing HFC use, the United States is expanding the list of climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs, and proposed to prohibit the use of certain HFCs for specific applications. Last fall, the Obama Administration announced private-sector commitments to reduce HFCs by the equivalent of 700 million metric tons of carbon dioxide through 2025, equivalent to 1.5 percent of the world’s 2010 greenhouse gas emissions and the same as taking nearly 15 million cars off the road for 10 years.” Read IGSD’s Press Release here.
Cutting Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Best for Reducing Near-Term Warming, Impacts
Only dual strategy with CO2 can avoid breaching 2°C barrier
Washington, DC, 28 May 2015 – A new study released by Oxford University today reaffirms that cutting short-lived climate pollutants may “be a more cost-effective way to limit the rate of climate change over the coming decades to ensure that ecosystems, food production and the economy can adapt, which also has a role in avoiding dangerous climate change” in the long-term.
"We don’t need to choose between cutting CO2 and cutting short-lived climate pollutants. We can and must do both,” said IGSD President, Durwood Zaelke. “The bottom line is that aggressive reductions in both are necessary to avoid dangerous climate impacts in the near-term and in the long-term.”
According to Zaelke, cutting SLCPs to slow near-term warming has several critical benefits. “First it reduces immediate climate damage, often suffered most by poorer countries, including damage from sea level rise and more powerful storm surges and other extreme weather events. According to research led by V. Ramanathan, cutting short-lived climate pollutants could avoid up to 0.6°C of warming by mid-century, compared to 0.1°C for CO2, and up to 1.5°C of warming by end of century, compared to 1.1°C for CO2. The cuts to SLCPs could slow the annual rate of sea-level rise by up to 50% by end of century. Second, reducing near term warming reduces the risk of setting off more powerful feedback mechanisms such as the melting of permafrost and the release of methane, which then accelerates global warming. Third, reducing near-term warming reduces the risk of passing tipping points for irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate impacts.” Read IGSD’s Press Release here.
Climate and Clean Air Coalition aims to cut rate of global warming in half, avoid 0.6° C of warming by 2050
Endorses cutting HFC under Montreal Protocol
California rallies other cities, states
21 May 2015 –"Smart climate policy is doubling down on efforts to achieve fast mitigation by cutting short-lived climate pollutants to help keep global warming to less than 2°C above pre-Industrial levels,” said IGSD’s President Durwood Zaelke.
Today a five-year strategy framework for cutting short-ived climate pollutants was adopted by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, with a view to a finalize a strategy in December in Paris. The US added $4 million and Norway another million to expand the Coalition’s efforts. The Coalition’s High-Level Assembly of ministers and deputies also endorsed cutting production and use of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, leaving accounting and reporting of emissions in the UN climate regime. The High-Level Assembly emphasized the importance of moving forward with the proposed HFC cuts under the Montreal Protocol when the Parties meet in July at their Open-Ended Working Group.
In another effort to cut short-lived climate pollutants, 11 government leaders, representing over 100 million people, agreed earlier this week to take action to keep the global average temperature below the 2°C guardrail for the most dangerous climate impacts including through efforts to reduce short-lived climate pollutants in the “Under 2 MOU” agreement.
The California also released a draft concept paper earlier this month describing how the state plans to move forward aggressively to reduce short lived climate pollutants, which the paper notes are responsible for as much as 40% of current global warming.
“California once again is showing the world a better future by coupling fast mitigation from cuts in short-lived climate pollutants with longer-term mitigation from cuts in carbon dioxide,” said IGSD President, Durwood Zaelke. “We can’t win the climate challenge without first winning the battle against air pollution and HFCs, which can provide the fastest mitigation in the near-term.” Read more from IGSD’s Press Release here.
Island States Urge Fast Climate Mitigation Under Montreal Protocol
8 countries co-sponsor amendment to phase down potent greenhouse gas
1 May 2015 – Today eight Pacific Island States submitted a formal proposal to amend the Montreal Protocol Ozone Treaty to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the manmade greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners. Led by the Federated States of Micronesia, which along with Mauritius was the first country to propose reducing HFCs under the Montreal Protocol in 2009, the group of amendment co-sponsors this year includes Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Palau, the Philippines, Samoa and Solomon Islands. The islands are urging fast climate protection to slow temperature and sea-level rise, and to reduce the intensity of storm surges and typhoons.
“Cutting HFCs, can reduce sea-level rise faster than any other strategy by avoiding the equivalent of up to 100 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by mid-century, and up to 0.5°C by the end of the century,” said Durwood Zaelke, IGSD President. “The island States recognize that the HFC amendment is the world’sbest near-term plan to slow climate change, making it a top priority for many countries already suffering climate impacts.”
“There is no way the world can achieve its agreed temperature stabilization goals if HFCs alone contribute warming of a half a degree Celsius by the end of the century,” said Andrew Yatilman, Micronesia’s Director of Environment and Emergency Management. “HFCs could represent 10-15% of global climate forcing by mid-century. We have the potential to take this projected forcing completely out of the system.”
India, the EU, and the North American parties of Mexico, Canada, and the US also filed formal proposals to phase down HFCs. Read IGSD’s Press Release here.
Africa Demands Cuts in Climate-Damaging Refrigerants
Emerges as leader of effort launched first by Island States
US, Europe support using Montreal Protocol to fight climate pollution
Bangkok, 24 April 2015 - Parties to the Montreal Protocol agreed today to inter-sessional meetings to ensure a path to finalizing an amendment this November to cut hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. These chemicals were previously favored as coolants in air conditioners, but are now recognized as one of the world’s most dangerous climate pollutants. Today’s agreement was reached during a week when heat sored to nearly 40°C in Bangkok, and demand for electricity broke records as people cranked up their air conditioners to keep cool.
Senegal, on behalf of the 54 countries of Africa, emerged as the new leader calling for an immediate start to the formal negotiations to cut the HFCs. The continent of Africa is warming at one and a half times the global rate, and already suffering devastating droughts and other climate induced impacts.
“Thanks to the African group, the table is now set for success this year,” said IGSD President, Durwood Zaelke. “Senegal and its allies in Africa demonstrated the skill and courage needed finish the HFC amendment.” He added, “The headline will be ‘World Eliminated Climate Damage from One of Six Main Climate Pollutants.’"
According to new analysis presented earlier in the week by Dr. Nihar Shah of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, countries can double their contribution to climate protection by improving the efficiency of air conditioners when they cut their use of HFCs. IGSD's Press Release is here.
India Takes Lead on Key Climate Strategy
Proposes phasing down HFCs under Montreal Protocol
Can provide powerful mitigation, and momentum for Paris climate negotiations
16 April 2015 - Today India made a formal proposal to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase down the super greenhouse gas, HFCs, used primarily as refrigerants and to make insulating foams, reversing several years of opposition that only began to thaw after the election of Prime Minister Modi.
“Prime Minister Modi is emerging as a leading climate voice on the global stage, and the India HFC proposal is concrete evidence of both his conviction and his sophistication,” said IGSD President, Durwood Zaelke.
The US, with Canada and Mexico, submitted its own version of a proposed HFC amendment earlier this week.
The Africa group, representing 54 countries, endorsed the HFC phase down under the Montreal Protocol at their ministerial meeting in Cairo in March, with Senegal championing the effort. Senegal has since requested that formal negotiations begin on the HFC proposals. Read IGSD’s Press Release here.
Improving India’s Room Air Conditioners Provides Powerful Climate Protection
Tremendous power sector benefits from improved energy efficiency and climate-friendly refrigerants
7 April 2015 – Switching to refrigerants with lower global warming potential (GWP) could reduce energy consumption by India’s residential air conditioning sector by 15%, boost the country’s economy, and help India meet its energy security and climate goals. Commercially available alternatives for room air conditioning with lower GWP and greater energy efficiency (based on Life Cycle Climate Performance (LCCP)) are described in a new report “Reducing Stress on India’s Energy Grid: The Power Sector Benefits of Transitioning to Lower Global Warming Potential and Energy Efficient Refrigerants in Room Air Conditioners,” jointly issued by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), and IGSD.
“Moving to low-GWP efficient alternatives in air conditioning can reduce consumer electricity costs, increase India’s energy security, expand India’s manufacturing sector, and cut the number of new power plants that will need to be built as India’s economy grows,” said IGSD President, Durwood Zaelke. Read IGSD's Press Release here.
U.S. Targets HFCs Ahead of UN Climate Negotiations
Cutting short-lived climate pollutants significant part of U.S. contribution to UN process
31 March 2015 – The U.S. announced this morning that reduction of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and methane, are a significant part of its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) to climate safety, along with cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate gases.
“The White House understands that fast mitigation is essential for near-term climate protection and can be achieved by cutting the short-lived climate pollutants, in many cases by using existing laws and institutions,” said IGSD President, Durwood Zaelke. The White House announcement highlighted its efforts to cut the production and use of the super greenhouse gas, HFCs, both at home and globally through the Montreal Protocol, which has already provided more climate protection than any other policy. Read IGSD's Press Release here.
Mexico Commits to Unconditional Reduction of Short-Lived Climate Pollutants
Shows Strong Ambition for December Climate Talks
30 March 2015 – On Friday Mexico made an unconditional pledge to reduce black carbon soot (BC) and other short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to climate protection, along with reduction of long-lived carbon dioxide and other climate pollutants. Mexico stated that it will use its own national resources to reduce SLCPs, which also include HFCs, used primarily as refrigerants and to make insulating foams, and methane, from oil and gas exploration and transmission, landfills, agriculture, and other sources. Mexico is the first developing country to release its INDCs ahead of the December Conference of the Parties.
“Mexico’s INDC is the first to recognize the importance of reducing black carbon and the other short-lived climate pollutants to achieve fast climate protection,” said IGSD President, Durwood Zaelke. “If other countries follow Mexico’s lead and reduce their own SLCPs, we can cut the rate of global warming in half and Artic warming by two-thirds in the near term through mid-century. We also can save several million lives a year now lost to these climate pollutants, and improve food security.” Zaelke added that “Black carbon is the second most powerful climate pollutant behind carbon dioxide, and reducing it is one of the fastest ways to slow warming. Mexico was wise to include it, even though black carbon is not in the formal basket of climate gases.”
Mexico noted that its SLCP mitigation strategy was informed by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC), which provided an INDC guidance note for including SLCPs.
At the same time Mexico issued its INDC, the U.S. and Mexico issued a joint statement expressing their commitment to “enhanced cooperation on air quality and climate policy, including harmonization and implementation of heavy-duty diesel and light duty emission standards, common programs to reduce reliance on HFCs, and technical cooperation on black carbon.” Read IGSD’s Press Release here.
African Countries Endorse HFC Phase Down Under Montreal Protocol
Support start of formal negotiations to eliminate one of six main greenhouse gases
Success will provide fast climate benefits for vulnerable continent
Cairo, Egypt, 6 March 2015 – The 54 countries of Africa, meeting in Cairo at the 15th session of African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, urged all member States to use the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and requested all to work towards a formal contact group to begin the negotiations this year. “The 54 countries of Africa face some of the most immediate and damaging climate impacts, and they recognize that cutting HFCs through the Montreal Protocol will be a huge climate victory both for the continent, and for all nations throughout the world,” said IGSD President, Durwood Zaelke. The Cairo Declaration also notes the importance of air pollution and the need to strengthen environmental law, including compliance. Read more from IGSD's Press Release here.
Up in the Air
In India, Mr. Obama makes a start on a climate partnership
29 January 2015 - One obvious area of potential [U.S. - India] cooperation was suggested by the sooty air in and around the capital while Mr. Obama was in town for lavish Republic Day celebrations. In some very back-of-the-envelope calculations, Bloomberg News estimated that exposure to air pollution during Mr. Obama’s short stay would shave six hours off his life. Unlike China, India doesn’t go to great lengths to conceal the extent of its pollution problem from its people. But as in China, India’s air pollution is harming health and contributing to climate change. The country recently became the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China and the United States.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi made a bit of progress on this front. They agreed to proceed with an international treaty to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, short-lived but potent greenhouse gases in appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioning units.
Read the full WashingtonPost Editorial here.
Obama, Modi Agree to “Concrete Progress This Year” To Reduce HFCs Under Montreal Protocol
Obama continues leader-level campaign to eliminate potent HFCs
Deadly air pollution another target
25 January 2015 - India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama issued a joint statement today agreeing to make “concrete progress in the Montreal Protocol this year,” building on their prior understandings to phasedown of HFCs at their September 2014 meeting.
“Today’s joint HFC agreement shows President Obama is continuing his leader-level campaign to eliminate one of the six main greenhouse gases this year using the world’s most effective and efficient environmental treaty,” said Durwood Zaelke, IGSD President. John Podesta, Obama’s top climate advisor, said the President has the “‘full commitment’ of the Prime Minister to move forward on phasing down HFCs according to the Montreal Protocol.”
“With Prime Minister Modi’s support and leadership, it is now possible to conclude an agreement this year to eliminate HFCs under the Montreal Protocol,” Zaelke added. “This will provide important political momentum for a successful climate agreement in Paris in December.” Read more from IGSD's Press Release here.
The Path to a Safe Climate Goes Through India
It seems fitting that NASA scientists announced that 2014 was the hottest year on record immediately before Prime Minister Modi and President Obama meet in India next week. Because these two leaders have a unique opportunity to set the world on a path to address more than half of the projected global warming through mid-century, a critical period for avoiding irreversible impacts.
To do this, the leaders need to extend the climate and energy agreement they reached last September, and add a program to reduce black carbon soot, methane, and ground-level ozone, the main component of urban smog. Their earlier agreement included using the Montreal Protocol to cut hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), used as refrigerants and for insulating foams. During next week's meeting they can agree on a fast timetable for doing this ahead of the UN climate meeting in December in Paris, providing new momentum for those climate negotiations as well.
Read more from Durwood Zaelke and V. Ramanathan's Huffington Post Op-Ed here.
Late Night Lima Deal Sets Stage for Climate Showdown in Paris
Shifts major mitigation burden to other willing venues to slow near-term warming
Lima, Peru 14 December 2014 – The UN climate discussions in Lima crossed the finish line at a few minutes past 3AM this morning, with all countries agreeing to shoulder climate commitments in an agreement to be finalized in Paris next December, but with commitments that will be of their own choosing.
“The Lima agreement sets the table for Paris, but the deal will be meager indeed unless it is expanded to include fast mitigation from other available laws and institutions outside of the UN process,” said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke, who attended the negotiations in Lima.
“Getting all countries on board is historic. But the commitments so far will be modest from many countries and collectively insufficient to prevent the growing climate crisis. This shifts a major mitigation burden to other available laws and institutions to shoulder, including the Montreal Protocol, which is ready to eliminate one of the six main greenhouse gases. It also means that the broad UN platform will have to get stronger quickly as countries learn how to reduce their emissions.” Read more from IGSD's Press Release here.
Progress in Paris to Phase Down Super Greenhouse Pollutants
Path forward to eliminate HFCs, major climate pollutant
Paris, France, 21 November 2014 – Parties to the Montreal Protocol continued to make progress in their negotiations to phase down production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), used primarily as refrigerants and to make insulating foams, opening a path to avoid the equivalent of up to 200 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from these fast-growing greenhouse gases by 2050, and to avoid 0.5°C of warming by 2100.
“We turned a corner in Paris with China and India indicating their willingness to consider how to move forward to discuss the proposed HFC phase down”, said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “The world’s two biggest countries have moved onto the winning team, and this means that the HFC amendment is now inevitable. India’s Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar brought new ideas and new energy to the meeting, and will clearly be one of the leaders going forward next year on the HFC amendment.” Read more from IGSD's Press Release here.
Progress on Fast Action to Cut HFCs Under Montreal Protocol
Ministers Highlight Importance of Controlling Fastest Growing Greenhouse Gas
Paris, France, 20 November 2014 – As the fourth day of the 26th Meeting of the Parties of the Montreal Protocol comes to a close, a unique collection of countries, including China, India, Brazil, and South Africa, along with the European Union and the United States, are calling for fast action to cut production and use of HFCs, the fastest growing greenhouse gas in the world, using the institutions and expertise of the Montreal Protocol, while leaving accounting and reporting of emissions within the UN climate treaty. In total, more than 120 countries have called for action to cut HFCs.
Phasing down HFCs will provide the equivalent of up to 146 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050, and avoid up to 0.5°C of warming by 2100. A fast phase down by 2020 will provide additional mitigation, equivalent to up to 64 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.
“This is the only climate strategy where all the major countries of the world are lining up on the same side,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, who is attending the negotiations in Paris. “As Segolene Royal, the French Environment Minister, said in her opening remarks this week, the road to a successful climate treaty in Paris next December runs through Montreal.” Read more from IGSD's Press Release here.
Obama and Xi Reach Historic Agreement on Climate Change
World’s top two climate polluters agree on fast action to cut short and long-lived emissions
12 November 2014 - "President Obama's historic agreement today with President Xi in China is the kind of bold action needed to reinvigorate the world's efforts to slow and eventually reverse climate pollution before the most severe climate impacts become irreversible", said IGSD President, Durwood Zaelke."President Obama might just save the world with his leadership on climate protection."
The US-China agreement has the three key elements for climate safety: fast action to cut hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, a short-lived climate pollutant, fast action to cut carbon dioxide emissions, the main long-lived climate pollutant, and the beginning of action to manage carbon dioxide after it has been emitted, through an ambitious plan to develop carbon capture, utilization, and storage, for example by capturing carbon dioxide at the smoke stack and turning it into cement-like building material. Read more from IGSD's Press Release here.
Obama and Modi Agree on Montreal Protocol to Reduce HFCs
On September 29 India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Obama agreed on the need to take urgent action to reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol, in addition to many other joint steps on climate and clean energy. According to the U.S.-India Joint Statement, the two leaders “recognized the need to use the institutions and expertise of the Montreal Protocol to reduce consumption and production of HFCs, while continuing to report and account for quantities reduced under the UNFCCC.” They further agreed to arrange an immediate meeting prior to the November Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol to discuss safety, cost, and commercial access to alternative technologies to replace HFCs. As part of the broader energy and climate package, the United States will provide support to advance India’s capacity to address climate change and shift to a low-carbon and climate-resistant energy economy, while improving air quality and energy efficiency by making $1 billion available to finance renewable energy and new research and development institutes for developing clean energies in India.“The US-India partnership offers something critical for Prime Minister Modi’s development agenda, and advances one of Obama’s top climate priorities," said Durwood Zaelke, IGSD President.
Read what the Economist says about the Montreal Protocol here.
A Development-Savvy Climate Strategy for India
During his first official visit to the United States this week, India's popular Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, will meet with President Obama, as well as with CEOs of top U.S corporations, to encourage investment to support India's development goals, which include providing renewable energy for the 400 million citizens who lack access today.
Mr. Obama can help Mr. Modi achieve his development goals by providing a package of energy measures, including assistance to improve the efficiency of India's air conditioning sector, which can use up to half of the available electricity during the sub-continent's hottest months. At the same time, the Prime Minister can help the President with one of his signature climate priorities by supporting the phase down of refrigerants know as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, under the Montreal Protocol.
Mr. Modi's economic agenda would benefit from using the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs, which belong to the family of chemicals called halocarbons. As Mr. Obama noted at the UN Climate Summit in New York last week, more than 100 countries support phasing down production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. During the Summit, the Montreal Protocol was hailed by The Economist magazine as the world's best climate treaty since it has almost completely eliminated other halocarbons know as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, whose potent greenhouse effect was discovered in 1975. As The Economist noted last week, the road to Paris goes through Montreal. The journey will be most rewarding for the world if Prime Minister Modi, President Xi, and President Obama -- a troika of climate warriors -- travel it together to fight climate change.
Read more from Mario Molina, V. Ramanathan, and Durwood Zaelke’s Huffington Post Op-Ed here.
Citizens March, Obama and Other Leaders Listen, Pledge Action
23 September 2014 - Two days after the historic People's Climate March, more than 100 heads of State met the challenge from the Secretary General to step up their climate mitigation actions. A key outcome of the UN Climate Summit was the prominence of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate pollutants, and their bold ambition to cut the rate of climate change in half through the end of the century by cutting black carbon, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). This also will save more than two and a half million lives a year, and improve crop yields significantly.
The CCAC announced a series of initiatives ranging from a partnership with oil and gas companies to reduce methane emissions, to a pledge to support an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs. In his address to the Summit today, President Obama described the US efforts including an HFC amendment, and noted that, “Already more than 100 nations have agreed to launch talks to phase down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. The same agreement the world used successfully to phase out ozone depleting chemicals. This is something that President Xi and I have worked on together. Just a few minutes ago I met with Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli and reiterated my believe that as the two largest economies and emitters in the world we have a special responsibility to lead. That is what big nations have to do.”
“The citizens’ march and the mitigation initiatives announced today will be remembered as a historic turning point in the effort to slow climate change—assuming the world follows through with a strong treaty in Paris in 2015," said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. Read more from IGSD's Press Release here.
White House and Industry Announce Emission Reduction Collaboration on Anniversary of Montreal Protocol
Washington, DC, 16 September, 2014 - In an event hosted by the White House today, a group of industry leaders made pledges to protect the environment by reducing emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), powerful greenhouse gases that are up to 10,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide and helping to drive climate change. Participants including Coca Cola, Dupont, Honeywell, Thermal King and Unilever revealed their partnership with the Administration to invest in the next generation of safer HFC alternatives and to incorporate climate-friendly technologies into their products as a part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.
Today also marks 27 years of the Montreal Protocol, deemed “International Day for Preservation of the Ozone Layer” by the United Nations Environment Programme, this year’s theme is entitled “Ozone Layer Protection: The Mission Goes On.”
“This is another important step by the White House in their effort to capture the biggest climate prize in near term by the phasing down of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, a strategy now supported by over 100 countries,” says Dr. Stephen O. Andersen, former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) liaison to the Department of Defense (DOD) for climate and ozone, and former co-chair of the Technology & Economic Assessment Panel of the Montreal Protocol.
Read more from IGSD’s Press Release here.
The White House HFC Fact Sheet is here.
Science report confirms Montreal Protocol's past successes, warns of future dangers
World’s best environmental treaty puts stratospheric ozone layer on path to recovery, Protects climate more than climate treaty
Washington, DC, 10 September 2014 - A report released today by the Montreal Protocol's Scientific Assessment Panel confirms that the treaty has put the stratospheric ozone on the path to recovery by 2025-2040 in the mid-latitudes and by 2045-2060 in the Antarctic by phasing out 98% of the production and consumption of over 100 ozone-depleting substances (ODS). Phasing out these 100 chemicals also has provided powerful climate protection, avoiding the equivalent of an estimated 9.5 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions per year – approximately five times more than the emissions reductions of the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period (2008-2012).
The science report warns of two future dangers. The first is that the climate protection provided by Montreal Protocol could be wiped out by the accelerating use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which are super greenhouse gases. The report also warns that climate change itself poses a risk to the recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer, as tropical ozone levels may be depleted by changes in atmospheric circulation driven by climate change. Ozone depletion over the tropics would increase skin cancer cataracts, suppress the human immune system and damage agricultural crops and ecosystems.
“The world owes the Montreal Protocol a debt of gratitude for doing so much to protect both the climate and the stratospheric ozone layer,” said IGSD president Durwood Zaelke. “It’s now time to finish the HFC amendment, and take another big bite out of the climate problem—avoiding the equivalent of between 100 and 200 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2050, and avoiding up to 0.5°C of warming by the end of the century.” Read more from IGSD's Press Release here.
Women’s hearts at greater risk from black carbon pollution
On August 25, researchers found increased exposure to black carbon, a potent short-lived climate pollutant, significantly impacts the health of women’s hearts, according to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The study followed 280 women in rural China and found that exposure to black carbon from traditional wood cookstoves doubles women’s blood pressure, which directly impacts heart disease. Nearly half the world still cooks this way. Women living near highways received additional exposures of black carbon from traffic emissions, leading to three times higher blood pressure levels. Black carbon, the second leading cause of global warming after carbon dioxide, is made of tiny black particles released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, wood, and waste. “Cutting black carbon pollution from stoves and traffic is a win-win for the climate and human health,” said IGSD President, Durwood Zaelke. “In addition, cutting black carbon and the other short-lived climate pollutants can cut the rate of global warming by half and Arctic warming by two-thirds through mid-century. We need a crash course that starts today.”
See the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America study here.