End-of-life HCFCs targeted

Argentina, Micronesia and Mauritius have submitted proposals to further slash international emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals.

The three countries want to strengthen the Montreal Protocol by avoiding emissions from coolants in old refrigerators, air conditioners and thermal insulating foam when they are thrown out.

They say that without action, most of the reservoirs of ozone-depleting chemicals will be released into the atmosphere by 2015, and could add up to more than 7bn tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

Better measures to deal with end-of-life fridges and other items are being called for to prevent further damage to the ozone layer.

“We know we are getting close to the point-of-no-return for abrupt climate change from the melting of the Arctic Ice and disintegration of the Greenland Ice Sheet,” said Mr. Sateeaved Seebaluck, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment for Mauritius.

“We know that one of the best ways to slow this down is to strengthen the Montreal Protocol.”

Micronesian Ambassador Nakayama added: “The ozone treaty, throughout its 20 years of operation, has become the best environmental treaty in the world and–for the moment at least– the best climate treaty as well.

“It has reduced climate emissions by a net of 135bn tons of carbon dioxide equivalent between 1990 and 2010, and delayed climate change by up to 12 years, keeping us from many of the tipping points for abrupt climate change.”

The three countries were among a group that last year successfully lobbied to speed up the phase out of HCFCs, or hydrochlorofluorocarbons, which were widely used as a replacement for CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) after the Montreal Protocol was introduced.

Although HCFCs are less damaging, they have been substituted for CFCs at higher rates than scientists had expected.

The agreement to accelerate the phase-out of HCFCs – which the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates will reduce emissions by 16bn tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2040 – came into force last month.

Kate Martin

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