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Washington, DC, 12 March 2014 – A phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in new air-conditioning and refrigeration was overwhelming approved by the European Parliament today, and will achieve a 79% reduction by 2030. The vote was 644 in favor, 19 opposed, with 16 abstentions. The final approval by the Council of Ministers is scheduled April 14th.

“Europe’s strong HFC phasedown adds tremendous momentum to the global phasedown of HFCs through the Montreal Protocol”, said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for “The Montreal Protocol HFC phasedown will be the biggest, fastest climate mitigation available to the world in the near term, avoiding the equivalent of 100 billion tons of CO2 by 2050 and up to a half a degree Celsius of warming by the end of the century. Success under the Montreal Protocol will in turn provide critical momentum for the UN climate negotiations, which are aiming for a new climate treaty next year, to take effect in 2020.”

Lead Member of Parliament Bas Eickhout stated, “This EU breakthrough sets the pace for a global phase-out of these ‘super greenhouse’ gases, which would otherwise account for 20% greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. F-gas emissions have risen by 60% since 1990 in the EU. Banning their use in refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment is therefore urgently necessary to reverse this trend.”

The EU legislation primarily targets HFCs, which are used as cooling agents and have a global warming potential up to 23,000 times more than CO2. There are many existing alternatives to HFCs that are safer for the climate and more cost-effective, and the new legislation will motivate further innovations that leads to additional climate friendly cooling agents.

The European Parliament’s adopted text is here (currently in French only).

The European Parliament’s press release is here.

IGSD’s Primer on HFCs is here.

Pentagon showing global leadership on climate threats

Washington, DC, 5 March 2014 – Climate change is a “threat multiplier” and a critical component of future defense strategy, according to the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review 2014 released yesterday. The 2014 QDR review states:

“Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating. These changes, coupled with other global dynamics, …will devastate homes, land, and infrastructure. Climate change may exacerbate water scarcity and lead to sharp increases in food costs. The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”

The Pentagon is developing strategies to address climate threats through operational provisions, including altering the type of support the defense forces may be called upon to provide to civil authorities.

“The Pentagon threat assessment shows a sophisticated understanding of the future our defense forces will face as the world continues to warm and as climate impacts continue to increase,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “Secretary Hagel and his team at the Pentagon are climate realists, as they prepare the military to operate in the resource-stressed world of the future, where the frequency and severity of climate disasters continue to grow. This is U.S. global leadership at its finest.”

The 2014 QDR notes that “The impacts of climate change may increase the frequency, scale, and complexity of future missions, including defense support to civil authorities, while at the same time undermining the capacity of our domestic installations to support training activities. … Climate change also creates both a need and an opportunity for nations to work together, which the Department will seize through a range of initiatives.”

Like the 2010 QDR, the Pentagon’s 2014 QDR recognizes the need to ensure that all military installations are strengthened against rising sea levels and extreme weather events. The 2010 QDR notes that “In 2008, the National Intelligence Council judged that more than 30 U.S. military installations were already facing elevated levels of risk from rising sea levels.”

IGSD’s Primer on SLCPs is here, and the Primer on HFCs is here.