US President Barack Obama on Thursday announced a series of new private sector pledges and executive actions to reduce potent hydrofluorocarbon (HFCs) emissions by the equivalent of more than 1 billion tonnes of CO2e by 2025.
The White House named 16 companies and organisations that have pledged to curb output of the gas, which is used in refrigerators and air conditioners and traps over 20,000 times more heat than a CO2 molecule. The list builds on a number of corporate efforts announced a year ago.
The EPA will also seek to both impose new deadlines for phasing out HFCs where cleaner alternatives are available, and to plug leaks from existing appliances.
The announcement builds on efforts first announced last year under a US-Chinese agreement to tackle climate change.
“As a complement to those regulatory measures, today’s commitments and progress demonstrate that US companies are at the cutting edge when it comes to developing the next generation of safe and cost-effective alternatives to HFCs,” the White House said.
It added that without these actions, HFC emissions in the US were expected to triple by 2030.
The new measures also contribute to Obama’s goal to cut US greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025.
Australia on Wednesday said it was examining measures that included a quota system for the controlled phase down of HFCs.
The US announcement also comes weeks ahead of the next Meeting of the Parties of the Montreal Protocol, which takes place in Dubai in early November.
Observers are hoping that negotiators can ink a new HFC-cutting deal there, ahead of the UN climate talks that start at the end of next month.
The US, along with the EU, India, and a group of island nations, has tabled proposals to curb the gas through the 25-year old protocol, which was agreed as a way to curb ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
The plans all call for industrialised countries to use a baseline calculated from average HFC production and consumption levels calculated over the past few years, and to reduce them gradually to reduce them to 10-15% of those benchmarks by various points in the mid-2030s.
They also propose that developing countries be allowed to peak their HFC production and consumption levels some time this decade or next, and to cut them by 85-90% by a range of deadlines between 2040 and 2050.
However, Pakistan was named by the Environmental Investigations Agency as the only country seeking to block progress at the last session in July.
Phasing-down the consumption and production of HFCs is estimated to save approximately 100 billion tonnes of CO2e by 2050.
By Mike Szabo – firstname.lastname@example.org