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Global Agreement to Phase Down HFCs Enters into Force


Potential to avoid up to 0.5°C of warming with fast implementation

Can double this with energy efficiency gains for cooling equipment

On 1 January 2019, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol entered into force, mandating the phase-down of super climate pollutants called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The amendment has now been ratified by 65 parties, including most recently Japan and Nigeria, surpassing the 20 ratifications needed to bring it into force. While the U.S. industry is supporting ratification, the U.S. administration has not yet indicated whether it will send the amendment to the Senate for its advice and consent. 

Two years ago, the Parties agreed to the Kigali Amendment to phase down HFCs, which has the potential to avoid up to 0.5ºC of warming by 2100 if implementation speeds up and Parties follow a “leapfrog” strategy that moves from the current refrigerants (HCFCs) directly into climate-friendly alternatives, bypassing HFCs with high global warming potential. Improving the energy efficiency of air conditioners and other cooling equipment has the potential to double the climate benefits of the HFC phase-down, giving the treaty a stretch goal of avoiding up to 1ºC of warming by the end of the century from these combined strategies.

“Over the last three decades, this work-horse treaty has not only solved the first great threat to the global atmosphere—the destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer—but it’s also solved an amount of the climate problem that would have equaled the contribution of carbon dioxide today—more than half of all warming—with the Kigali Amendment and energy efficiency poised to add even more climate protection,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development.

Zaelke added, “As we enter the New Year facing increasing climate impacts, the success of the Montreal Protocol should give us hope that it is still possible to slow climate change in time to avoid the fast-approaching existential threat of uncontrollable climate impacts.”

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