DOHA, QATAR: The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) today issued an open letter to global leaders meeting at the international climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar, urging them to act now to eliminate hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – one of six classes of greenhouse gases (GHG) controlled under the climate regime.
Among the issues being discussed by delegates at this year’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (CoP18) are proposals to institute a global phase-down of the production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. It is also expected to feature high on the agenda at tomorrow’s (Wednesday’s) Ministerial Round Table on increasing countries’ mitigation ambition.
A majority of nations support an HFC phase-down but progress has been blocked by a handful of countries for tactical reasons.
HFC emissions are the fastest growing source of GHG emissions worldwide, and are predicted to spiral to 55-8.8 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent by 2050, equivalent to 9-19 per cent of global CO2 emissions under a business-as-usual scenario. The elimination of HFCs would represent a significant step forward by the international community at a time when the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly hard to ignore and concrete action on mitigation has stalled.
EIA Global Environment Campaigner Natasha Hurley said: “No-one underestimates the scale of the challenge facing the international community today. As recent events have shown, climate change is already wreaking havoc worldwide.
“But here in Doha, Ministers have a unique opportunity to kick-start a process that will prevent emissions of 2.2 gigatonnes CO2-equivalent (Gt CO2e) by 2020 and almost 100 Gt CO2e by 2050.
“We are looking to them to make a clear statement at this conference urging the Montreal Protocol to lead a phase-out of the use and production of HFCs, recognising that emissions of HFCs will still be included in the greenhouse gases covered by the UNFCCC.”
A year ago, countries agreed to negotiate a new globally binding climate agreement by 2015. However, the new treaty will only enter into effect in 2020. A recent report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) highlighted an 8-13 Gt CO2e gap between the pledges undertaken by countries so far and the emissions reductions needed to limit global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in the period up to 2020.
EIA Atmospheric Policy Analyst Danielle Gagne said: “An 8-13 gigatonne gap between pledges made and what is needed to stay below two degrees Celsius must be addressed at CoP18. One of the best, most cost-effective and immediate ways to address this gap is for Ministers to pledge to phase out these supergreenhouse gases by sending a clear signal urging the Montreal Protocol to control the production and consumption of HFCs.”