May 5, 2009

US Backs Reduction Of Climate Warming Gases

The White House labeled hydrofluorocarbons a very significant hazard to climate change on Monday, and wants HFCs that are endorsed under the U.N.'s ozone treaty dramatically condensed instead of eliminating them entirely.

However, a senior State Department official did not endorse an official plan, created last week by the nations of Micronesia and Mauritius, to change the Montreal Protocol ozone treaty that would reduce HFCs by 90% by 2030.

The treaty endorses the use of HFCs, a potent kind of greenhouse gas, to substitute harmful chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. While HFCs are not hurtful to the ozone layer, they are 10,000 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

Micronesia and Mauritius wish to include a HFCs gradual elimination in the ozone treaty talks in November, stating that it is a vital matter of continued existence for their island as sea levels rise.

0fficials at the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Defense Department are all for a decrease of HFCs, but ran into a few road blocks in a year when the administration is reviewing plans for a successor to the Kyoto climate treaty due to expire in 2012.

The United States hasn't the time "to complete the analysis needed to understand the potential impacts of such an approach or to consider how amending the Montreal Protocol to address HFCs would affect negotiations ... with respect to the post-2012 period," wrote Daniel Reifsnyder, a deputy assistant secretary for environment and sustainable development, in a letter to U.N. Ozone Secretariat Marco Gonzalez.

"We plan to continue actively studying and analyzing this issue," he added.

Advocates of the plan were dissatisfied.

"We cannot hesitate as a third of our future global warming emissions hang in the balance. We need action "” and U.S. leadership "” this year," stated Alexander von Bismarck, executive director of the Environmental Investigation Agency, a Washington group that headed the plan two years ago.

2% of the world's global warming gases are HFCs, but are anticipated to increase by a third in two to four decades due to the endorsement of them in various household goods that once utilized CFCs.

Several manufacturers have started to substitute HFCs with natural refrigerants like hydrocarbons, ammonia or carbon dioxide. The U.S. market for HFCs is $1 billion, a third to one-half of the world wide amount.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry announced Monday that "HFCs are significantly more powerful greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide, and the damage is only going to grow if we don't act in the short term."

He noted that President Barack Obama at present "clearly recognizes the impact of HFCs, and I'm confident he'll work with Congress to find a way to address this growing challenge in the best and quickest way possible."


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