KIGALI, Rwanda, Oct. 15 (UPI) — Nearly 200 countries agreed to a “monumental” amendment in the Montreal Protocol aimed at reducing the use of hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs, in the face of growing concerns over global climate change.
HFCs are commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning and is the world’s fastest-growing greenhouse gas.
“It’s a monumental step forward that addresses the needs of individual nations, but it will give us the opportunity to reduce the warming of the planet by an entire half a degree centigrade,” said Secretary of State John Kerry who attended the Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol.
Countries with stronger economies like the United States and the European Union have agreed to limit the use of HFCs and have aimed to cut back by at least 10 percent by 2019.
Developing countries like China and others in Latin America have agreed to reach the same terms by 2024. The countries who are the farthest behind economically, like India, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq, have until 2028.
“HFCs posed an immediate threat to a safe climate due to their increasing use and high global warming potential, thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide,” said Benson Ireri, Senior Policy Advisor at Christian Aid. “By agreeing to an early HFC phase slow down schedule, we’ve bought ourselves a bit more time to shift to a global low carbon economy and protect the world’s most vulnerable people.”
Though there has been some criticism about India and China’s timetable, Kerry is confident that the agreement will produce major results.
“I feel very positive about where we are,” he said. “We ran all the numbers and everybody feels confident that the integrity of the substance of this is there.”