- Category: Politics
12 Nov 2012
- Published on Monday, 12 November 2012 13:48
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The Montreal Protocol, the global treaty protecting the ozone layer by phasing out ozone depleting substances, celebrates its 25th anniversary this week.
Known as the most successful climate treaty to date, the Montreal Protocol is said to have helped the world achieve a 98 percent reduction in the consumption and production of 97 ozone depleting substances (ODS).
Now, according to an environment advocacy group, the next step is for the Montreal Protocol and its signatories to fully embrace its obligations and act to regulate hydrofluorocarbons, chemicals that have been commercialized as substitutes’ for ODS.
According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (not to be confused with the United States Environmental Information Administration), the reduction of HFC’s is an immediate and cost-effective option to achieve rapid global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
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“Whether the Montreal Protocol is the world’s most successful treaty will be judged by whether it takes actions to phase-out HFC’s,” said Clare Perry, an EIA campaigner.
“It will not be judged as successful if it saves the ozone layer but sacrifices the global climate in the process.”
According to the group, even if HFC’s are alternatives to ODS, they are not identical. While, HFC’s do not damage the ozone layer, they can also affect the global climate as they are greenhouse gases with global warming potentials hundreds or thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
Currently, HFC consumption has increased from almost zero in 1990 to 1100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2010.
This makes atmospheric HFC the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Unless HFC use is checked, they will reach between 5.5 gigatonnes and 8.8 Gt CO2e by 2050. Not only will this negate the positive climate benefits achieved by the ODS phase-out, it will also largely negate anticipated reductions in carbon dioxide.
According to EIA, for the last four years, parties have submitted proposals to amend the Montreal Protocol to allow for a phase-out of HFC’s, but a small number of countries have blocked formal discussion, arguing that HFC’s are regulated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.
However, neither of these climate conventions are taking action to phase-out HFC’s.
The EIA recommends immediate action to phase out HFC’s, including the formation of a formal HFC contact group to advance discussions on the amendments of proposals to phase out HFC to a point where these can be adopted in 2013.
“The central principle in the history of life on Earth is that we must evolve or perish. The time has come for the world's most successful environmental treaty, the Montreal Protocol, to evolve and expand its efforts. We must act now,” said Mark W. Roberts, EIA international policy advisor. – EcoSeed Staff