Monday, November 08, 2010

Montreal Protocol Could Deliver Biggest GHG Reductions In History

Nov 5: While most of the world is focused on the UNFCCC climate negotiations leading up to the December meeting in Cancun, the international Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) says the November 8-12, Montreal Protocol meeting in Bangkok will consider three distinct decisions, each of which would produce greater emission reductions than those resulting from the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol or any near-term options being considered in the climate talks. These three options are the main subject of a report released by EIA entitled, Maximizing Climate Benefits from Ozone Protection. The 22nd Bangkok Meeting of the Parties (MOP22) will decide whether to begin a phase-out on production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, that are used primarily in refrigeration and air-conditioning in favor of climate-friendly alternatives.  

    The Montreal Protocol, of which every nation is a member, will also be considering action to maximize direct transitions from HCFCs, powerful ozone-depleting substances (ODS), to climate-friendly refrigerants rather than HFCs, as well as a program for recovery and destruction of ODS "Banks," the stockpiles of ODS in appliances and storage leaking into the atmosphere that collectively represent over 16 billion tons of CO2 equivalent emissions. It will also consider a decision on destroying emissions of HFC-23 waste gas not covered by the UN's Clean Development Mechanism. HFC-23 is almost 12,000 times more potent than CO2, and is emitted during the production of HCFC-22.

    Samuel LaBudde, Senior Atmospheric Campaigner with EIA said, "These are the most cost-effective, high-yield opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the world. It's senseless to delay and rely solely on the UNFCCC process when such a significant part of the solution can be implemented immediately and at far less cost through the Montreal Protocol."

    It is estimated that eliminating HFCs, one of the six greenhouse gases (GHG) focused on by the UNFCCC, would prevent 88-140 billion tons of CO2 equivalent emissions by 2050, or about 3-5 years worth of annual global emissions from fossil fuels. Total cost for an HFC phase-out, which would follow on the Montreal Protocol's historic success in phasing out ozone-depleting substances, is estimated to be between $7-15 billion US (5-11 billion euros) over 30 years, or about 100 times cheaper than the cost of achieving equivalent reductions under the UNFCCC process or through carbon markets.

    EIA Campaigner Fionnuala Walravens said, "Right now the Montreal Protocol is at a crossroads; beyond ensuring its phase-out of HCFCs does not result in the phase-in of climate-damaging HFCs, it is poised to deliver the biggest emissions reductions in history. If the world is serious about global warming, the Montreal Protocol is the place to begin.  Next week's decisions are critical to answering the threat of climate change."

    Access a release from EIA and link to the complete 16-page report (click here). Access the Ozone Secretariat website (click here). Access the MOP22 website for meeting documents and further information (click here).