Keeping a global, 21st century temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius will require urgent action on a group of chemicals increasingly being used in products such as air conditioners, refrigerators, firefighting equipment and insulation foams. The chemicals, collectively known as Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), are becoming popular as replacements for those phased-out or being phased-out to protect the ozone layer—the Earth's high flying shield that filters out dangerous levels of the sun's ultra violet rays. But a report launched today by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) projects that by 2050 HFCs could be responsible for emissions equivalent to 3.5 to 8.8 Gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide (Gt CO2eq) - comparable to total current annual emissions from transport, estimated at around 6-7 Gt annually. HFCs are, along with CO2, methane and other gases, controlled under the UN's Framework Convention for Combating Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol. Measures to protect the ozone layer are carried out under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. "Cooperative action between these treaties may be the key to fast action on HFCs, assisting to maintain momentum on recovering the ozone layer while simultaneously reducing risks of accelerated climate change," said Mr Steiner.
The new report HFCs: A Critical Link in Protecting Climate and the Ozone Layer was launched today in Bali, Indonesia, at the 23rd Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol. To learn more on the report, click here.