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U.S., China to Cooperate on Reducing Consumption of Hydrofluorocarbons

Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The U.S. and China announced June 8 that they will work together and with other countries to use the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons. A White House press release states that a global phase down of HFCs could potentially reduce some 90 gigatons of CO2 equivalent by 2050, equal to roughly two years’ worth of current global greenhouse gas emissions.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was established in 1987 to facilitate a global approach to combat depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer. A White House press release notes that every country in the world is a party to the Montreal Protocol, which has successfully phased out or is in the process of phasing out several key classes of chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons and halons.

While these transitions provide major ozone layer protection benefits, the unintended consequence has been the rapid current and projected future growth of HFCs, which are highly potent greenhouse gases used in refrigerators, air conditioners and industrial applications. Left unabated, the press release states, HFC emissions could grow to nearly 20% of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

The White House adds that for the past four years the U.S., Canada and Mexico have proposed an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that would gradually reduce consumption and production of HFCs, control byproduct emissions and require reporting in these areas. The amendment also includes a financial assistance component for countries that can already access the Protocol’s Multilateral Fund.

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