The Group of 20 made a significant step toward balancing the world’s climate by limiting HFCs. Here’s how:
Earlier this month in St. Petersburg, Russia, all the leaders represented at the G20 meeting (35 influential developed and emerging countries and the European Union) agreed to phase down production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
The group of nations will use the Montreal Protocol, which has successfully restrained depletion of the ozone layer by earlier refrigerants (namely, CFCs) since 1987, to address the HFC problem. American government figures indicate that unified action can protect the atmosphere from the carbon dioxide equivalent of 90 gigatons, or about two years’ worth of the world’s current output, by 2050.
The Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, applauded the G20’s action on HFCs: “The leaders of the G20 group of nations have provided another positive signal towards the goal of realizing a universal climate agreement by 2015 under the UN climate convention and the ultimate aim of sharply bringing down greenhouse gas emissions in line with the scientific imperative.”
In a separate agreement, building on bilateral efforts in June, President Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping announced their plans to establish a contact group for HFCs. The collaboration will work on economically viable and technically feasible means to reduce the use of these gases, as well as defining safety and environmental benefits from HFC limitation.
These September developments may provide a positive impetus for decisions at the Warsaw international meeting in November and the 2015 Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Consensus on global climate issues has historically failed due to factionalism in meetings of the 190-member UNFCCC group.