The European Union urged a cleanup of emissions from air conditioners and refrigerators, saying the gases, as much as 11,700 times more potent in warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, are “ripe” for global action.
International coordination to reduce hydrofluorocarbons, known as HFCs or F-gases, could have a “significant impact” on reducing emissions, said Artur Runge-Metzger, the European Commission’s lead envoy at United Nations climate talks that began today in Bonn. HFCs make up about 1 percent of greenhouse gases and may account for more than 20 percent by 2050, he said.
The EU is seeking ways to expand the global fight against climate change before 2020, when nations plan to bring a new emissions treaty into effect. The bloc is pushing to delegate HFC reductions to a different treaty, the Montreal Protocol, which was established in 1987 to eliminate chlorofluorocarbons, the so-called CFC gases found in aerosols and solvents.
“We and others believe that the best framework for implementing the phase-down is the Montreal protocol,” Runge-Metzger told reporters. “It has 25 years of experience in addressing fluorinated gases and dealing with the industry sectors that are affected.”
It’s not the first time nations have attempted to cut HFCs, which have gained favor since the gradual reduction in CFCs. The U.S., Canada and Mexico put forward a proposal in 2009 that has failed to become a reality.
HFCs are “a family of gases that we think is ripe for international action,” Runge-Metzger said.
The EU is calling on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which governs HFC emissions, to cede responsibility for them to the Montreal Protocol authority. The UNFCCC should send a “clear signal” on such a move at this year’s main round of UN talks in Warsaw in November, according to the 27-nation bloc. More than 100 countries back the plan, Runge-Metzger said.
China, the world’s biggest polluter, remains “hesitant” on the matter, he said.
Su Wei, China’s lead negotiator, said he wasn’t available for an interview.