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Obama Climate Priority Moves Closer to Cutting HFC Super Pollutants


Secretary of State Kerry brings momentum to extraordinary meeting of Montreal Protocol

24 July 2016, Vienna – The top climate priority of President Obama to use the Montreal Protocol to phase down super pollutants known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) became much more likely in the early hours of Sunday (24 July), when almost all parties converged on a narrower set of options on key issues as they concluded their extraordinary meeting in Vienna.

“Secretary of State John Kerry and the many ministers who came to Vienna this week generated enough momentum to propel rank-and-file negotiators to move significantly closer to agreement to phase down HFCs,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development.

“India, however, remained the outlier, showing little evidence of the promise Prime Minister Modi made to President Obama to finish an ambitious HFC amendment this year,” he added.

The final version of the HFC amendment is expected to be agreed at the final Meeting of Parties this October in Kigali, Rwanda, although much progress will have to be made in the coming months, including at an additional extraordinary working group meeting the parties just agreed to hold, subject to funding.

A fast HFC phasedown can avoid the equivalent of up to 100 billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2050, and avoid up to half a degree Celsius of warming by 2100.

Improving energy efficiency in air conditioners and other appliances during the phasedown of HFCs, which are used as refrigerants, can nearly double the climate benefits of the phasedown by avoiding a second 100 billion tons of carbon dioxide in mitigation by 2050, increasing the size of the climate prize to 200 billion tons.

Earlier in the week many ministers called for “Friends of Ambitious HFC Amendment,” and promised to promote the amendment at the G20, the UN opening, and other high-level meetings.  The Friends group was discussed at the high-level meeting of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.

“The HFC amendment is a big down payment on the Paris Agreement negotiated last December,” Zaelke added.  “It’s a very big deal, and the US and most of the rest of the countries of the world are now treating it that way.”

The CCAC’s Vienna Communique is here.

IGSD’s Primer on HFCs is here.