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What's next for the Kigali deal to curb potent greenhouse gases?

October 20, 2016

What's next for the Kigali deal to curb potent greenhouse gases?

Thu, Oct 20, 2016

In the early hours of 15 October 2016, the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer unanimously adopted the Kigali Amendment, paving the way for the reduction of powerful greenhouse gases - hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

The world hailed the move as the single largest step made so far towards keeping global warming below two degrees Celsius, a key commitment of the Paris climate accord.

Below, we explain just how important the Kigali Amendment is, how it may impact the world around us and what it will take to get us there.

Why HFCs?

HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons are commonly used in air conditioners, refrigerators, aerosols, foams and other products. They were introduced as substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other substances harmful to the ozone layer, which were being phased out under the Montreal Protocol.

But what was meant as a solution to the ozone hole problem, soon became a source of another major global threat, as it turned out that HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases, with a global warming potential thousands of times larger than that of carbon dioxide (CO2).

On a planet where temperature is steadily rising and a rapidly growing middle class can increasingly afford air conditioners and refrigerators, the demand for HFCs is skyrocketing. The consumption of HFCs is estimated to expand by about 10 per cent each year, making it not only one of the most powerful greenhouse gases, but also the fastest growing one.

Limiting the use of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol is expected to prevent the emissions of up to 105 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases, helping to avoid up to 0.5 degree Celsius of global temperature rise by 2100.

This seemingly small difference could actually have an immense positive impact on food production, water availability or survival of coral reefs, as shown by a recent study by European scientists.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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