Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

To Address Near-Term Warming, U.S. and China Vow to Cooperate on HFCs, Methane, and Other Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases

Countries pledge to strengthen Paris Agreement, implement the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and reduce emissions under other sectoral agreements

Shanghai, China– At the conclusion of their 17 April 2021 bilateral meeting,  U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and China Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua pledged near-term actions to address the climate crisis. In their U.S.-China Joint Statement Addressing the Climate Crisis the countries agreed:

To “implement the phasedown of hydrofluorocarbon production and consumption reflected in the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol;” and to cooperate “on addressing emissions of methane and other non-CO2 greenhouse gases.”

The U.S. and China also pledged to work together to strengthen the Paris Agreement and to ensure the success of COP 26 in Glasgow and COP 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, “noting the importance of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, including its relevance to climate mitigation and adaptation.”

The Joint Statement builds on China’s announcement two days earlier that it will “accept” the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer made at a virtual summit, Entretien en visioconférence, with President Macron of France and Chancellor Merkel of Germany.

Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, said:

“The commitments between the U.S. and China on HFCs, methane, and other non-CO2 climate pollutants set the stage for the 10-year sprint to 2030 to slow self-reinforcing feedbacks, avoid irreversible tipping points, and prevent warming from crashing through the 1.5°C barrier by the end of the decade.”

“Cutting methane, HFCs, and the other short-lived super climate pollutants is the only strategy we know that can slow warming in the next 10 to 20 years.” 

“The U.S.-China agreement builds on President Macron’s efforts over the past two years to ensure ratification of the Kigali Amendment by China and India and is helping set the stage for success at President Biden’s Earth Day Leaders’ Summit on Climate.”

 Mitigation of non-CO2 super climate pollutants—methane, HFCs, black carbon, and tropospheric ozone—combined with mitigation of CO2, and protection of sinks and other nature-based solutions, are the three essential strategies for limiting warming to 1.5°C. Beyond 1.5°C, it is likely that self-reinforcing feedbacks will push the planet past irreversible tipping points with potentially catastrophic impacts that would put the mid-century carbon neutrality goal out of reach.

China’s efforts to promote ratification of the Kigali Amendment and the continuing evolution of the Montreal Protocol include commitments made through earlier bilateral agreements between President Xi and President Macron in 2019. These include the Joint Declaration between the French Republic and the People’s Republic of China on the Preservation of Multilateralism and Improvement of Global Governance (March 2019), where the leaders committed to “work together to promote the ratification and implementation of the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol on the phasedown of HFCs” (English translation here) and on the Beijing Call for Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change (November 2019), which called on all countries to “ratify, as soon as possible, and implement the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol,… and undertake action to improve energy efficiency in the cooling sector globally.”

The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, agreed by the Parties in October 2016, represents the single biggest piece of climate mitigation to date. A fast HFC phasedown can avoid up to 0.5°C of future warming by 2100. Beyond phasing down HFCs, improving the energy efficiency of cooling equipment has the potential to at least double the climate benefits of the Kigali Amendment in the near term.

119 countries have ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. In January 2021, President Biden directed the State Department to prepare a transmittal package to the Senate to seek their advice and consent to ratify the Kigali Amendment.

The U.S.-China Joint Statement Addressing the Climate Crisis is here.

The Entretien en visioconférence avec la Chancelière de la République fédérale d’Allemagne, Angela MERKEL, et le Président de la République populaire de Chine, XI Jinping is here.