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G20 leaders back HFC phase down

RUSSIA: The world’s leading economic countries have agreed to place a phase down on HFC refrigerants within the framework of the Montreal Protocol.

The agreement at the G20 summit in St Petersburg yesterday commits the world’s top 20 economic nations to agreeing a global phase down of the use and release of HFCs.

US president Barack Obama backs a phase down of HFCs
US president Barack Obama backs a phase down of HFCs

In a statement, the White House said: “This commitment marks an important step forward toward addressing HFCs – highly potent greenhouse gases that are rapidly increasing in use – through the proven mechanism of the Montreal Protocol.”

The specifics of the agreement will be discussed at the next meeting of the protocol in October in Bangkok.

The agreement was signed by Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, USA and the EU, as well as Ethiopia, Spain, Senegal, Brunei, Kazakhstan, and Singapore.

The G20 agreement on HFCs states: We also support complementary initiatives, through multilateral approaches that include using the expertise and the institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), based on the examination of economically viable and technically feasible alternatives. We will continue to include HFCs within the scope of UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol for accounting and reporting of emissions.

For the past five years, Micronesia, along with the United States, Canada and Mexico have unsuccessfully tabled amendments to the Montreal Protocol to include a phase down of HFCs. However, global action on phasing-down HFCs has previously stalled due to countries disagreeing over whether a phase-down should occur under the Montreal Protocol or the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The G20 statement resolves this debate by asserting that the phase down of the consumption and production of HFCs will take place under the Montreal Protocol, while the emission reductions will be accounted for under the UNFCCC.

“Phasing out HFCs is the fastest, most cost-effective climate mitigation measure available and joint global action on HFCs will set an example of how the nations of the world can come together to solve the problem of climate change,” said Environmental Investigation Agency senior campaigner Clare Perry.

In a separate move on HFCs, US president Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping reached a bilateral agreement 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.

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