Policy Analysis

Promise by U.S. and China to phase-out HFCs a welcome step to reduce climate pollutants

By Scott Vaughan on June 11, 2013

On June 8, 2013, United States President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to cut production of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HFCs).

This chemical, used in refrigeration and insulating foams, is already being replaced in some categories with cost-effective substitutes. The agreement will greatly bolster calls by a growing number of countries to include HFCs within the 1987 Montreal Protocol, the single most successful global environmental treaty. The treaty was signed by countries working in step with the private sector, to protect the Earth's stratospheric ozone from destructive chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), once used widely in aerosols and other applications.The inclusion of HFCs in the Montreal Protocol would be the equivalent of reducing over 100 billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2050. And the cost of reduction is estimated to be just pennies per ton. The proposal to include HFCs within the Montreal Protocol has the support of over 100 countries, including Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. China's support will strengthen the proposal, which will be considered at the 25th meeting of the parties to the Montreal Protocol, held in Bangkok in October 2013.

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