41 Nations Join Island Effort for Fast Phase-out of Super Greenhouse Gases

November 9, 2009

PORT GHALIB, Egypt, Nov. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Yesterday, two small islands fighting rising seas and growing storm surges driven by climate change were joined by a growing army of nations to support their battle to phase down super greenhouse gases. The weapon of choice for the Federated States of Micronesia and Mauritius is the Montreal Protocol ozone treaty. Their target is a group of super greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.

The support from the coalition of countries came in the form of an official declaration of intent to phase down HFCs. If not controlled, these gases could equal 45% of CO2 emissions by 2050. The declaration was issued by the 41 countries at the conclusion of the annual meeting of the ozone treaty today.

“The declaration provides a clear signal to the world that the super greenhouse gases we are targeting will soon be gone,” said Antonio Oposa Jr., delegate from the Federated States of Micronesia.

The 41 countries that issued the declaration calling for action to phase down HFCs found further support from the 27 members of the European Union in a statement from the floor at the close of the international meeting. Japan and Australia also added statements of support from the floor in their closing remarks.

The Montreal Protocol Parties also took a formal decision to expand programs for destroying chemical stockpiles of ozone depleting substances that damage the ozone layer and are “super” greenhouse gases that contribute significantly to climate change. This decision could lead to climate mitigation equivalent to the amount of CO2 targeted under the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty, which runs from 2008 to 20012.

“Fast HFC cuts can prevent a decade of warming and reduce the equivalent up to 100 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, an expert on international law. “The question now is whether the rest of the world will move fast enough.” Zaelke attended the treaty negotiations in Port Ghalib to present evidence on the harm HFCs are causing. He spoke at an official event on The Role of the Military in the Montreal Protocol organized by the United Nations Environment Programme.

“The Montreal Protocol is the best climate treaty to date, and has already delayed climate change by up to 12 years by reducing climate emissions by a net of 135 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent,” Zaelke explained to the group of generals and other senior military officials.

Micronesia and Mauritius launched their initiative against HFCs in April when they called on the ozone treaty to phase down these greenhouse gases. The United States, Mexico, and Canada followed with a similar proposal.

“Phasing out these super greenhouse gases would have immediate benefits for climate and entirely eliminate one of the six greenhouse gases responsible for global warming,” said Mark W. Roberts of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) from Port Ghalib.

Used primarily in refrigeration and air conditioning, HFCs are known as ‘super’ greenhouse gases because the combined effect of their soaring use and high-global warming potential (GWP) threatens to cancel the benefits expected from reduction of other greenhouse gases.

“Despite the fact that it is already regarded as the most effective environmental accord in history, this week’s efforts illuminate the possibility that the Montreal Protocol’s best work lies in its future rather than in the past,” added Roberts.

The Montreal Protocol’s historic success in controlling and eliminating ozone-depleting substances means that it already has the infrastructure and experience necessary to phase down HFCs quickly and effectively.

Other Parties to the Montreal Protocol said that they are looking to the climate negotiations in Copenhagen next month for further support for a fast HFC phase down. The two treaties would address different aspects of HFCs. The Kyoto Protocol addresses downstream emissions of HFCs. The Montreal Protocol would phase down the upstream production and consumption of HFC.

Sam LaBudde of EIA added, “The Montreal Protocol has already phased out nearly 100 other gases that harm the ozone layer and warm the climate. The treaty’s compliance record is enviable. The past phase outs have cut production and consumption by of the targeted chemicals by 97%.”

For more information contact:

Fionnuala Walravens, Environmental Investigation Agency +44-7939-035481

Alex Viets, Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development +1-213-321-0911, aviets@igsd.org

SOURCE Environmental Investigation Agency

Source: newswire

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