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Deal to limit emissions from HFC gas is reached

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Vincent Biruta, MOP 28 President, gavels the adoption of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol

Last week,  after eight years of negotiations, parties to the Montreal Protocol adopted an agreement to amend the Protocol to phase-down climate-damaging hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by freezing and then reducing their production and use (mostly in refrigerants and air conditioning).

The issue of HFCs is one most of us at best ignored. Despite the huge global warming potential of these gases, interest over the years was low.

Now, developed countries have agreed to make their first HFC cuts by 2019. More than 100 developing countries, including China, Mexico, Brazil and others, committed to freeze their HFC production and use by 2024, and make further reductions thereafter. India, Gulf States, and Pakistan have agreed to reduce HFCs on a slower track starting in 2028.

With the negotiation success, one might think that we can move on to the next issue or go back to business as usual. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. It is crucial that in the coming years countries work towards transitioning to energy efficient and environment friendly alternatives.

Countries need to accelerate national ambition on HFCs by translating the Kigali Agreement into national determined contributions and part of their long-term climate strategies and they have to make sure that HFCs already being used widely in refrigeration and air conditioning are being recycled and recaptured.

Sure, all of that needs to happen over time but soon enough to give a fighting chance for the world to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Lina Dabbagh is the senior policy coordinator for the Climate Action Network. 

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