David Doniger, Policy Director, Climate and Clean Air Program, Washington, D.C.
I’ve just arrived in Bangkok, where negotiators from around the world will convene next week for the mid-year meeting of the Montreal Protocol, the world’s most successful environmental treaty. There they will look for common ground on whether use this treaty to tackle some of the most potent heat-trapping pollutants, the “super greenhouse gases” known as hydrofluorcarbons, or HFCs.
To recap, the phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-destroying chemicals under the Montreal Protocol has brought huge climate side-benefits because these chemicals are also powerful heat-trapping pollutants. Scientists tell us that phasing out CFCs worldwide delivered a climate protection bonus equivalent to 11 billion tons of CO2 reductions in 2010 alone – more than five times the carbon reductions of the Kyoto Protocol.
Another way to look at it: The CFC phase-out bought us a 10-year delay on warming. Imagine what this roaring-hot, extreme-weather summer would have been like with all that extra heat-trapping fuel in the atmosphere.
But those benefits are now being eroded by the breakneck growth of HFCs as replacement chemicals in air conditioning, refrigeration, insulating foams, and other uses. As the New York ...
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