Today, the United States, Canada, and Mexico have submitted a joint North American proposal to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. This joint effort represents a major step toward addressing the mounting threat of global climate change while also preserving the ozone protection benefits of the Montreal Protocol.
At last year’s Meeting of the Parties, 90 countries signed a declaration recognizing that the projected increase in the use of HFCs poses a major challenge for the world’s climate system. HFCs do not damage the ozone layer, but they are powerful greenhouse gases used as replacements for ozone-depleting substances that are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol. These 90 countries declared their intent to pursue further action to transition the world to environmentally sound alternatives to ozone-depleting substances.
Building on this commitment, the North American proposal calls on all countries to take action to reduce their consumption and production of HFCs. Developed countries would lead the effort beginning in 2015 to gradually phase down to 15% of baseline levels by 2033. Developing countries would take their first step to control HFCs in 2017, phasing down to 15% of baseline levels by 2043. The amendment proposal, backed by an accompanying decision proposal, also takes action to reduce HFC-23 byproduct emissions. A preliminary analysis by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicates that the North American amendment proposal would produce a reduction benefit of more than 98 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050.
The problem of HFCs is closely linked with the phaseout of ozone-depleting compounds, including the ongoing accelerated phaseout of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). Without action, the HCFC phaseout and increasing global demand for refrigeration and air-conditioning are anticipated to drive continued growth in HFC production and consumption. Given the ongoing transition away from HCFCs, our proposal recognizes that this is the opportune time to encourage both the use of existing climate-friendly alternatives and the development of innovative, new alternatives that do not harm the ozone layer or climate system.
Together with our partners Canada and Mexico, the United States believes that global action on HFCs is needed and that the Montreal Protocol provides an established, effective and efficient instrument for tackling this problem. The United States looks forward to working with its partners in the run up to the 23nd Meeting of the Montreal Protocol Parties in November in Bali to make the most effective use possible of the tools available today to safeguard the ozone layer and protect the global climate system.