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Phasing down HFC production can provide fast, climate benefits

Washington, DC, 18 July 2014 – The world’s efforts to protect the climate from dangerous fluorinated gases moved forward this week in Paris at the mid-year meeting of the parties to the Montreal Protocol, which concluded today.

The meeting, called the Open-Ended Working Group, was preceded by a two-day seminar last Friday and Saturday on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), focusing on the growing availability of substitutes for the current HFCs with high global warming potential, as well as the relationship with the UNFCCC, and the availability of funding for developing countries.  (HFCs are used primarily as refrigerants in air conditioners, refrigerators, and other products and equipment, as well as to make insulating foams.)

The seminar demonstrated that new climate friendly technologies were already entering the market and already competing with high-GWP HFCs.  The choice for small room air condition was HC-290, and HFC-32 for medium room air conditioning, with hydrocarbons, CO2, water and methyl formate for foam.  For mobile air conditioning, it may be too close to call, with HFO-1234yf and HFC-152a both in contention.  There seem to be no clear choices yet for meter dose inhalers, technical aerosol products, or specialty fire protection.

Some products and equipment operating in high ambient temperature may require special use exemptions for HCFC-22 and HFC blends until technology is proven and reaches economy of scale and competitive prices.

The central discussion at the Open-Ended Working Group was how to stop the growth of HFCs, which are super greenhouse gases.  They are the fastest growing climate pollutants in the US, China, and many other countries.

The parties agreed to launch a discussion group to address issues raised by the few remaining reluctant parties, including legal issues that were quickly dismissed, issues about the availability of substitutes to the current refrigerants, and issues relating to the linkage between the Montreal Protocol and the climate treaty, called the UNFCCC.

The parties also discussed how much funding the developed country parties should provide for the three-year replenishment of the Montreal Protocol’s dedicated funding mechanism, called the Multilateral Fund.  The last replenishment was $450 million over three years.

The parties will continue their negotiations at the Montreal Protocol’s meeting of the parties in November, which also will be in Paris. Most parties were focusing on an agreement to be reached next year, but others appear to be ready with finance and fast action if agreement can be reached in November 2014.

Many parties asked for sharper technical assessment to make choices clear and to document what the most technically sophisticated companies are choosing for next generation technology. Parties are also asking for more demonstrations and technical workshops.

The effort to phase down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol began five years ago when small island States, lead by the Federated States of Micronesia, first proposed an amendment to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs, in order to provide fast mitigation that would slow sea-level rise and the violent storm surges that threaten the existence of many islands.  Morocco has since joined the FSM proposal.

A second proposal to phase down HFCs quickly followed from the US, Mexico, and Canada.  Both proposals have been submitted annually since 2009.  The number of supporters for phasing down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol has grown to more than 100 since then. This includes support from the G7 and the G20 heads of State, who endorsed phasing down production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, while leaving accounting and reporting of HFC emissions in the UNFCCC.

The G20 includes China, and China President Xi also reached a bilateral agreement with US President Obama to start formal negotiations on the HFC proposal by forming a “contact” group.  This week China made its most forceful statement about HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.

Other G20 countries, however, have not yet followed through with their G20 commitment.  This includes India, which sent a new delegation to this week’s meeting but was still opposing the formation of a contact group, although with less enthusiasm than in the past.  (It appeared that the new government in India has not yet decided what its position on HFCs will be.)

Brazil (along with Argentina) has also continued to oppose the start of formal negotiations, primarily it seems because of concerns that the Montreal Protocol’s funding mechanism may not receive sufficient funds when it is replenished this fall.

Saudi Arabia emerged as the most vocal opponent of the HFC proposal this week, because their negotiator said their country is very hot and there is concern that the new substitute refrigerants may not work as well.  Other States in the region, in particular Jordan, were supportive of the HFC phasedown.

The proposed HFC phasedown would provide the biggest, fastest, and most secure climate mitigation available in the near-term through 2020—the equivalent of 100 billion tonnes of CO2.  (In contrast, the Kyoto Protocol has provided 5 to 10 billion tonnes of CO2-eq so far.)  The HFC phasedown would avoid up to 0.5C of warming by the end of the century. If the phasedown of HFCs was done by 2020, the climate mitigation would be up to 200 billion tonnes of CO2-eq. The HFC phasedown also would improve energy efficiency of air conditioners, refrigerators, and other products and equipment that use these chemicals as refrigerants.  This will avoid significant amounts of CO2 emissions from the power plants that provide the electricity to run these products and equipment.

The Montreal Protocol is widely regarded as the world’s most effective environmental treaty, having earlier phased out CFCs and now phasing out HCFCs, chemicals that both destroy the stratospheric ozone layer and also warm the climate. This success has put the stratospheric ozone layer on the path to recover later this century. The Montreal Protocol has also provided the equivalent of up to 200 billion tonnes of CO2 in mitigation. The early efforts to boycott CFCs in hairspray and deodorant spry cans, starting in 1974 when Mario Molina and Sherry Roland discovered that CFCs were destroying the ozone layer (which lead to their sharing the Nobel Prize in chemistry), plus the national and then international effort to eliminate CFCs and related chemicals, has solved an amount of climate change that otherwise would have equaled the amount of warming CO2 is now contributing.

Also this week, Paris hosted the working group meeting of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, known as the CCAC. (The CCAC secretariat is based in UNEP’s Paris office.) The short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) include HFCs, black carbon soot, methane and tropospheric ozone, the main part of urban smog.  The CCAC will be featuring the proposed Montreal Protocol HFC phasedown at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September.  (The Summit’s goal is to catalyze more ambitious climate mitigation from heads of State.)  The goal at the Secretary General’s summit is to reach agreement among key Montreal Protocol parties to announce a specific schedule for negotiating the HFC phasedown, with the end date before COP 21 in Paris next December.

IGSD’s Primer on HFCs is here.

Goal is fast mitigation of short-lived climate pollutants

Can provide six times more climate benefit than CO2 cuts in near-term

Washington, DC, 26 June 2014 – Senators Murphy (D-Connecticut) and Collins (R-Maine) announced today their plans to introduce the Super Pollutants Act of 2014 to cut short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) by requiring the Administration to establish a task force to review specific policies and laws to reduce black carbon, methane, and high-global warming potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). SLCPs currently account for 40% or more of global warming. Because they are fast acting, they can provide more than half the solution needed to stay below the 2°C guardrail through the end of the century. It is essential to also reduce CO2 emissions to stay within the 2°C guardrail.

Reducing SLCPs can lower warming by up to 0.6°C by 2050 and up to 1.5°C by the end of 2100. Aggressive cuts to CO2 can lower warming by 0.1C by 2050, and 1.1C by 2100. Cutting SLCPs is six times more effective in protecting the climate through 2050 than cuts to CO2, but both are essential for staying within the 2°C guardrail.

Reducing HFCs can avoid 0.1°C of warming through 2050, the equivalent amount of warming that proposed cuts to CO2 can provide over the same period, and can avoid about 40% of what CO2 cuts can avoid by 2100. The US, along with Canada and Mexico, Micronesia, and Morocco, have made formal proposals to phase down production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, leaving accounting and reporting in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The G7 endorsed this strategy earlier this month, as did the G20 last September. President Obama and President Xi of China have negotiated two bilateral agreements on HFCs, including one last year to launch formal negotiations under the Montreal Protocol.

The proposed legislation will reinforce the Administration’s international efforts to reduce SLCPs. The Secretary of State is directed to help the international community with efforts such as providing vehicle manufacturers with low-emission engine designs to reduce black carbon emissions and establishing partnerships to reduce black carbon in the Arctic.

The Act calls for the U.S. Agency for International Development to prioritize black carbon mitigation activities as part of aid distribution activities and to give special emphasis to projects that produce substantial environmental damage. Furthermore, technical guidance will be provided to other countries on containment of emissions from gas drilling, landfills, coal mining, and agriculture when engaging with other governments, including trade delegations, under the auspices of Department of State’s Global Shale Gas Initiative

“The Super Pollutants Act will accelerate and coordinate Administration efforts already underway to reduce SLCPs”, said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, and “this will reinforce the President’s international leadership on this critical climate strategy. It’s essential to reduce SLCPs along with carbon dioxide to keep the climate within safe bounds.”

The section by section of the Super Pollutants Act can be found here, and the draft bill text here.

IGSD’s Primer on SLCPs is here.

IGSD’s Primer on HFCs is here.

Washington, DC, 28 May 2014 – China announced an aggressive target for reducing emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by the equivalent of 0.28 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2015. The State Council released the HFC target to the public on 26 May 2014. It appeared on 15 May 2014 in the 2014-2015 Energy Conservation, Emissions Reduction and Low Carbon Development Action Plan.

China’s announcement follows two HFC agreements President Obama and President Xi negotiated last year, including an agreement to launch formal negotiations to reduce production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.   The 20 largest economies also endorsed phasing down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol last year, leaving accounting and reporting in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

On May 16, the Federated States of Micronesia filed a formal proposal to use the Montreal Protocol to phase down production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, and the North American countries (US, Canada, and Mexico) filed a similar proposal on May 9.

The US also is taking strong action to reduce HFCs domestically, as is the EU. HFCs are super greenhouse gases hundreds to thousands of times more potent in their warming impact than carbon dioxide, and are the fastest growing climate pollutants in many countries, including the U.S. EU, China, and India. Fast reductions by 2020 could provide the equivalent of up to 200 billion tonnes of CO2 in mitigation by 2050, and avoid up to 0.5°C in warming by 2100.

“China should be congratulated for its strong HFC target, which sets an example for the rest of the world to get on with the job of phasing out HFCs with high global warming potential,” stated Dr. Stephen O. Andersen, former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) liaison to the Department of Defense (DoD) for climate and ozone, and former co-chair of the Technology & Economic Assessment Panel of the Montreal Protocol. “China’s action makes it increasingly inevitable that HFCs will be phased down under the Montreal Protocol, and soon.”

IGSD’s Primer on HFCs is here.

Fast action under Montreal Protocol can eliminate climate threat from one of the six main greenhouse gases

Washington, DC, 12 May 2014 – A fast phase-down of factory-made HFCs could avoid the equivalent of as much as 200 billion tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2-eq) by 2050, according to a study published today in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, by Guus Velders, Susan Solomon, and John Daniel, Growth of climate change commitments from HFC banks and emissions.

The HFC reductions could be achieved quickly and inexpensively with a leap-frogging strategy where countries currently phasing-out hydroclorofluorocarbon (HCFCs) under the Montreal Protocol leap frog over HFCs and use already available climate-friendly alternatives. President Obama has made the phase down of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol a central part of his Climate Action Plan. In pursuit of this goal, the U.S., Mexico, and Canada filed a proposed amendment last week to phase down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. A similar proposal is expected this week from the Federated States of Micronesia.

Alternatives already exist to replace climate-damaging HFCs for most industry sectors, including natural refrigerants such as CO2, and hydrocarbons, and many more are in the development pipeline. Many of these alternatives have comparable or better energy efficiency than the gases that they are replacing, providing additional climate benefits from reduced energy use, and cost savings to consumers. Traditionally, the re-engineering that accompanies the switch to new alternatives has produced improvements in energy efficiency of air conditioners and refrigeration of 30% to 60%.

According to Velders, Solomon, and Daniel, “If…HFC production were to be phased out in 2020 …, not only could about 91–146 GtCO2-eq of cumulative emission be avoided from 2020 to 2050, but an additional bank of about 39–64 GtCO2- eq could also be avoided in 2050.” Banks include chemicals contained in existing refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, chemical stockpiles, foams, and other products, which are slowly released into the atmosphere over a decade or more. For comparison annual CO2 emissions in 2050 are projected to be between 12 and 75 Gt per year, depending on the success with various mitigation strategies.

“A phase down of HFCs through a leap frogging strategy would quickly and effectively eliminate the climate threat from one of the six main greenhouse gases,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “HFCs are the fastest growing greenhouse gases in many countries including the U.S., E.U., China, and India.” Between 2006 and 2010 global HFC emissions grew at a rate of 10-15% per year, and according to recent U.S. EPA estimates, HFCs were the only category of greenhouse gases in the U.S. that increased in 2012. The growth in HFCs is being driven by the previous phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and the ongoing phase-out of HCFCs under the Montreal Protocol.

To-date over a hundred countries support phasing down HFC production and consumption, including the G20 heads of State and the more than 100 heads of State signing the Rio+20 declaration. In 2013 the presidents of the U.S. and China agreed to work together to phase down HFCs using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down production and consumption, leaving accounting and reporting in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. HFCs were also an important part  of the UN Secretary General’s Abu Dhabi Ascent earlier this month.

While today HFCs have caused less than 1% of total global warming, previous estimates have projected that without fast action the climate forcing of HFC will increase as much as thirty-fold by 2050, adding as much as 0.5ºC of additional warming by the end of the century. This new study shows that “[e]arlier phaseouts of HFCs would yield benefits for climate protection that are about 40% larger than estimates based on concentrations and radiative forcing in 2050 alone, due to the added impact of avoided banks.”

In 2009 Velders lead another effort that projected that the climate impact of uncontrolled HFC emissions would grow from de minimis levels of today, where they represent about 1% of total forcing, to the as much as 16% of CO2 values in 2050. The new study shows that when forcing from HFC banks is included, the annual rate of increase in radiative forcing by HFCs in 2050 could be half of the annual increase from CO2.

The study authors also note that an early-phase down under the Montreal Protocol would be more cost effective than waiting and having to collect and destroy HFCs slowly leaking from banks, pointing out that “HFC banks are dispersed across the globe to a much greater extent than are the HFC production facilities.” Comparatively, the completed phase-out of the production and consumption of CFCs and on-going phase-out of HCFCs has been achieved at a cost to the public of less than a dollar per equivalent tonne of CO2. The Montreal Protocol Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) has estimated that destroying currently existing banks of ODSs could cost as much as $19 per equivalent tonne of CO2.

“When it comes to HFCs an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure,” stated Zaelke. “The message should be clear. Immediately, phasing down high-GWP HFCs is the biggest, fastest, and cheapest climate mitigation opportunity available to the world today. This is a unique opportunity for fast climate mitigation to completely eliminate a climate threat before it even happens. Just imagine what we could have done if we had similar forewarning at the beginning of the industrial revolution.”

The abstract follows:

“Abstract. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are the primary cause of ozone depletion, and they also contribute to global climate change. With the global phaseout of CFCs and the coming phaseout of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), the substi- tute hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are increasingly used. While CFCs were originally used mainly in applications such as spray cans and were released within a year after production, concern about the ozone layer led to reductions in rapid- release applications, and the relative importance of slower- release applications grew. HFCs are now mainly used in refrigerators and air conditioners (AC) and are released over years to a decade after production. Their containment in such equipment represents banks, which are building up as production grows. A key finding of our work is that the increases of HFC banks represent a substantial unseen commitment to further radiative forcing of climate change also after production of the chemicals ceases. We show that earlier phaseouts of HFCs would provide greater benefits for climate protection than previously recognized, due to the avoided buildup of the banks. If, for example, HFC production were to be phased out in 2020 instead of 2050, not only could about 91–146GtCO2-eq of cumulative emission be avoided from 2020 to 2050, but an additional bank of about 39–64 GtCO2- eq could also be avoided in 2050. Choices of later phaseout dates lead to larger commitments to climate change unless growing banks of HFCs from millions of dispersed locations are collected and destroyed.”

IGSD’s HFC Primer is here.

Climate Impacts Costing U.S. $100 Billion A Year

Fast cuts to HFCs, methane, and black carbon essential

Washington, DC, 6 May 2014 – The last decade has been the hottest on record in the U.S., periods of extreme heat now last longer than any living American has ever experienced, rainfall is becoming both more intense and more erratic, and sea-level rise and storm surges threaten thousands of coastal communities.

According to the third U.S. National Climate Assessment released by the Obama Administration today, these and many more crippling impacts of climate change are being felt in every part of the U.S., with staggering human and economic costs.

“The findings of this Assessment cry out for fast climate mitigation,” stated Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “Fast action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants including HFCs, methane, tropospheric ozone, and black carbon can cut the rate of global warming in half over the next several decades and is essential for reducing near-term impacts with continuing climate benefits through the end of the century.”

The 1,300 page report compiled by 300 leading scientists and experts is meant to be the definitive account of the effects of climate change in the U.S., and confirms what many already know, that “[c]limate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present.” Climate and weather disasters cost the U.S. economy more than $100 billion in 2012 and without fast action mitigation, the Assessment warns, temperatures in the U.S. could rise another two degrees Fahrenheit over the next few decades, producing increasingly severe climate impacts, as well as harming public health, and reducing agricultural production.

The Obama Administration isn’t waiting to take action to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. This past June Obama released his Climate Action Plan laying out a sophisticated blend of strategies designed to produce climate benefits immediately, like the phase down of HFC coolants and reductions in methane emissions, while also addressing CO2 emissions which are critical for long-term climate stabilization. In 2011 the Administration finalized some of the toughest fuel economy standards in the world for heavy-duty trucks, buses, and vans, and light-duty passenger vehicles. And just last week the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to establish and enforce air pollution standards, including CO2 controls, for coal power plants.

As a result of these and similar efforts, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell by 3.4% in 2012, their lowest levels since 1994. While total emissions fell in 2012, emissions of the super greenhouse gas HFCs increased nearly 4%. HFCs are the fastest growing greenhouse gases in the U.S. and many other countries, and are being addressed in the U.S. through the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program.

“Phasing down emissions of HFCs is the fastest and cheapest climate mitigation opportunity available to the U.S. and the world,” Zaelke added. “The E.U. just approved new f-gas regulations expected to cut HFCs by 80% by 2030. The U.S. is beginning to make significant progress to cut climate emissions, but there is still a long way to go. Now it’s time for a global agreement to phase out HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.” HFCs and other short-lived pollutants were a central part of the UN Secretary-General’s meeting in Abu Dhabi this week, called the “ascent” as it paves the way for climate summit in New York in September. More than 100 ministers attended the Abu Dhabi meeting.

IGSD’s Primer on SLCPs is here.

Washington, DC, 6 May 2014 – The message was clear coming out of the May 4 & 5 Abu Dhabi Ascent in the to the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September: time is running out to take necessary action to prevent the worst predicted impacts of climate change, but real solutions exist to fight back.

Attended by more than 100 ministers, the ascent is part of the U.N. Secretary-General’s effort to build momentum for a strong climate treaty in Paris by the end of next year, by highlighting concrete mitigation actions, including actions to reduce both carbon dioxide and short-lived climate pollutants, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), black carbon, and methane.

In his opening message, the UN Secretary-General stated that “[t]he planet is sending us clearly a message that nature is now sick. We must listen. That is why I am saying to world leaders: Don’t be on the losing side of history. Change is in the air. Solutions exist. The race is on. It’s time to lead.”

Representatives from governments, the financial and private sector, civil society, and intergovernmental organizations presented concrete actions ranging from measures on energy efficiency and renewable energy to climate finance and agriculture.

The Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to Reduce Shot-Lived Climate Pollutants presented a number of actions designed to provide near-term climate benefits while protecting human health and improving agricultural production, including promoting a Green Freight Action Plan, HFC alternative technology demonstration projects, and a new methane finance mechanism with the World Bank.

“Cutting short-lived climate pollutants could cut the current rate of climate change in half by 2050, while preventing more than two million deaths a year from air pollution, and avoid around 35 million tonnes of crop losses annually,” stated Durwood Zaelke, who attended the ascent. “When Ban Ki-moon asks for practical action to combat climate change, the work of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants must be a central part.”

Fast action to cut short-lived climate pollutants can cut the rate of climate change in half in the near term, potentially avoiding as much as 1.5ºC of additional warming by the end of the century.

Looking forward to the NY Summit, the CCAC will be working to launch a strong public/private partnership to promote a global phase-down of HFCs, which are the fastest-growing greenhouse gases in many countries including the U.S., E.U., China, and India.

“Phasing down the production and consumption of HFCs through the Montreal Protocol is the fastest and cheapest opportunity available to the world today,” added Zaelke. “Phasing down these potent gases could avoid the equivalent of a hundred billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, and build the sense of urgent optimism that we need to meet the challenge of climate change.”

“Reducing short-lived climate pollutants must be part of the climate equation if we are to keep the world on a less than two-degree path. Multiple initiatives brought to the Ascent aim to tackle SLCPs in innovative ways, and showed promising momentum,” stated UNDP Administrator Helen Clark in her closing remarks.

The CCAC’s Abu Dhabi SLCP Briefing note is here; IGSD’s Primer on SLCPs here.

Fast actions to cut short-lived climate pollutants can help, along with expanding renewable energy, other measures

Washington, DC, 14 April 2014 – Global greenhouse gas emissions increased by the equivalent of ten billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) between 2000 and 2010, according to a new report released this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and half of all human CO2 emissions between 1750 and 2010 have occurred in the last forty years. Without additional efforts to significantly cut emissions, global temperatures could hit a staggering 4.8C above pre-industrial temperatures by the end of the century, with potentially disastrous consequences for humanity, ecosystems, and sustainable development.

The report entitled Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change, is the third of three Working Group Reports, which make up the IPCC’s fifth Assessment Report on climate change. The report, produced by 235 authors from 58 countries, analyzed approximately 1200 climate scenarios investigating the economic, technological and institutional requirements for meeting global climate goals. Based on this analysis, the report found that stabilizing global temperature rise at 2ºC over pre-industrial temperatures—the limit considered by many scientists to be safe— will require lowering greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 70% compared to 2010 numbers by mid-century and reaching near-zero emissions by 2100.

The IPCC also noted that many fast actions for addressing climate change are proving to be more affordable than previously imagined. According to the authors, actions to improve energy efficiency through new building codes and vehicle efficiency standards can significantly reduce emissions without harming people’s quality of life. Renewable energy, such as wind and solar, are also becoming cheaper to produce and deploy.

The report also highlighted the importance of quickly addressing emissions sources, which can reduce warming while producing co-benefits for human health and ecosystem impacts. Numerous recent studies have shown that addressing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), including black carbon soot, methane, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons can produce significant near-term climate benefits while also improving human health, food security and energy security.

“Cutting short-lived climate pollutants could cut the current rate of climate change in half by 2050, while preventing more than 2.4 million air-pollution related deaths a year, and avoiding around 35 million tonnes of crop losses annually.” stated Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “Cutting SLCPs is one of the best ways to reduce impacts over the next 50 years and beyond.”

The report noted that fast mitigation and co-benefits ‘are particularly high where currently legislated and planned air pollution controls are weak.’

“We have the technologies to cut the short-lived pollutants today,” Zaelke added. “This includes phasing down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol and using other complementary initiatives such as the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, the only global effort focusing on these pollutants.”

Find the IPCC report here

Find IGSD Primer on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants here

Find IGSD Primer on Hydrofluorocarbons here

Washington, DC, 31 March 2014 – The Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) congratulates the chemists and managers at Asahi Glass Company (ASC) for their new refrigerant that has equal energy efficiency with a GWP about 1/6th that of the status quo hydrofluorocarbon (HFC)-410a (IPCC 5th Assessment Report 100-year GWP=1923) and about 1/3rd of the GWP of HFC-32 (AR5 GWP100 yr =677), which is the alternative-of-choice for room air conditioners too large to safely use a hydrocarbon refrigerant (HC)-290 (GWP <5).

“This achievement demonstrates that leadership companies can and are stepping up to climate protection,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of IGSD. “AGC was a leader 30 years ago when we needed replacements for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and now they are once again providing leadership for future generations with new technology that is safer for climate.”

“Amending the Montreal Protocol to phase-down high-GWP HFCs will stimulate more and more innovations like this one from AGC,” said Durwood. “The companies that protected the ozone layer are now also helping protect the climate.”

The new AGC refrigerant AMOLEA™ is a near drop-in replacement for hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-22 (AR5 GWP100 yr =1760) being phased out under the Montreal Protocol and for HFC-410a being phased down by the European Union and Japan and proposed for phase-down globally under the Montreal Protocol. Products with superior climate performance will enter American markets rapidly as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) implements President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by removing environmentally inferior refrigerants like HFC-410a from the list of chemicals allowed under the US EPA Significant New Alternatives Policy Program (SNAP).

AMOLEA™ will compete with HFC-32 for medium- and large-size room A/C where the refrigerant charge of highly flammable natural refrigerants would be too large to be safe and in markets where safety standards and building codes have not yet been modified to allow HC-290 (propane) as a refrigerant in the small room A/Cs where they are considered safe.

AMOLEA’S™ innovative ingredient is hydrofluoroolefin (HFO)-1123. AGC is completing the final stages of toxicity, safety and energy efficiency performance testing and plans to begin global marketing of the new refrigerant in 2016.

Updates in latest IPCC report are more certain and more devastating

Washington, DC, 31 March 2014 – Widespread climate change impacts have already begun and are expected to get worse, according to the latest report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this weekend in Yokohamo, Japan.

The impacts include heat waves, droughts, floods and wildfires, and they affect impoverished peoples and nations disproportionately. However, the report notes that no one will be unaffected by future climate change. Some impacts such as the release of the powerful climate pollutant methane from the melting permafrost have the potential to trigger accelerating feedback loops that will push temperatures even higher.

The IPCC report shows the need for fast action mitigation in the near-term. A key focus needs to be reducing short-lived climate pollutants, which has the potential to cut the rate of climate change in half, slowing global temperature rise by up to ~0.6°C by 2050 and 1.3°C by 2100. Fast action mitigation can be achieved by using existing laws and institutions to cut hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), black carbon soot, methane, and tropospheric ozone.

“The IPCC report should supercharge efforts to cut HFCs and the other short-lived climate pollutants,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “Early success with the HFC amendment under the Montreal Protocol this year or in early 2015 will essentially eliminate one of the six main greenhouse gases, and provide powerful momentum for a successful COP 21 in Paris at the end of 2015.”

“President Obama and Secretary John Kerry have long recognized that it’s critical to cut HFCs and the other short-lived climate pollutants to win near-term climate relief,” said Zaelke. “The President’s new methane reduction strategies announced last week show he and his climate team are continuing to walk the walk at home, even as they promote these strategies internationally, as the President did last week at the Council of Europe.”

IPCC’s WGII AR5 Final Draft Report is here.

IGSD’s Primer on HFCs is here.

IGSD’s Primer on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants is here.

7 million deaths annually are linked to indoor and outdoor air pollution

Addressing air pollutants could save millions of lives & cut warming in half by 2030

Washington, DC, 25 March 2014 – One in eight deaths in 2012 is attributed to exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution, according to new estimates released today by the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the new WHO data, indoor particulate matter air pollution from the burning of solid fuels for heating and cooking caused 4.3 million deaths in 2012, and outdoor particulate matter air pollution caused an additional 3.7 million deaths globally. Regionally, low- and middle-income countries in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific saw the highest number of air pollution deaths, with a total of 3.3 and 2.6 million deaths caused by indoor and outdoor particulate matter air pollution respectively.

Exposure to particulate matter air pollution, which includes major climate forcers such as black carbon soot, is linked to such diseases as ischaemic heart disease, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory infections, and lung cancer.

“Reducing air pollution, including black carbon soot pollution, can save millions of lives a year, reduce crop losses significantly, and cut the rate of global warming in half and the rate of warming in the Arctic by two-thirds over the next few decades,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “With this combination of benefits—healthier citizens, higher crop yields, and half the rate of climate change—reducing air pollutants should be a top priority for sustainable development and climate protection.”

Black carbon soot, one of four climate pollutants known collectively as short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) due to their relatively short atmospheric lifetimes, is the second leading cause of global warming behind CO2. The other three SLCPs are methane, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. Fast action to reduce SLCPs has the potential to cut the rate of climate change in half, slowing global temperature rise by up to ~0.6°C by 2050 and 1.3°C by 2100, while preventing 2.4 million air pollution-related deaths per year, and avoiding around 30 million tonnes of crop losses annually.

Due to the heightened effects of black carbon and tropospheric ozone near their emissions sources, these benefits, including much of the climate mitigation benefits, are enjoyed largely by the regions making the cuts. For example, eliminating emissions of black carbon from traditional solid biomass stoves with improved cook stoves would have a major impact in reducing black carbon direct climate effects over South Asia (by about 60%).

“Reducing emissions of these short-lived climate forcers is critical for protecting the world’s vulnerable peoples and vulnerable ecosystems,” said Zaelke. “When we talk about sustainable development,” Zaelke added, “this is precisely what we mean. These measures reduce climate change, save lives, provide access to clean energy, and improve food security all at once.”

The WHO Report is here

IGSD’s Primer on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants is here