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Curb HFCs

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May 31, 2009 | From the print edition

-- Plea to phase down a potent greenhouse gas



TWO island nations vulnerable to climate change impacts, Micronesia and Mauritius, have sought curbs on a chemical that could represent a third of the total greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions by 2040.

In a joint representation, the two countries sought US support to regulate production and use of hydroflourocarbons (hfcs) by getting them included in the Montreal Protocol--an international treaty to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of a number of chemicals believed to deplete atmospheric ozone. Right now hfcs comprise two per cent of the global emissions. But their use in refrigerators and air conditioners is growing so fast that it is estimated they will produce 11 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent ghg by 2040.

The two countries have appealed for the inclusion of hfcs in the Montreal Protocol as the treaty has a good track record and has helped phase out 100 chemicals by 97 per cent. Mauritius and the Pacific island of Micronesia said the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change might be the appropriate forum to address ghg emissions. But the chemicals can be effectively and quickly regulated under the Montreal Protocol. A four per cent annual reduction in hfcs will achieve 85 per cent phase-down by 2030, they said.

The two countries said hfcs can be included in the Montreal Protocol because these chemicals are used as replacement for ozone depleting substances (ods) and are created as by-products of ods destruction. The global warming potential of hfcs is estimated to be hundred to thousand times of CO2.

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