Climate change progress has just gained increased momentum. Beginning in 2019, the most affluent countries and economies, including the United States and the European Union, will decrease their usage of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The agreement stems from the Montreal Protocol. It is under this treaty that over 140 countries signed the Kigali Amendment, which is the deal that will aim to phase down the global warming pollutants.
In the words of US Secretary of State John Kerry, who extensively aided in the formation of the deal, “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”.
You’re probably thinking how great and wonderful all of this is. But, there’s also the possibility that you have never heard of Hydrofluorocarbons. Well, fear not, because we’re here to give you a quick breakdown.
HFCs are composed of hydrogen, fluorine, and carbon. They are predominantly used as refrigerants. HFCs are also found in air conditioners and aerosol cans. These gases are most commonly referred to as “super greenhouse gases” because of two main reasons: we use too much of them and they have enormous potential for dramatic increases in temperature. A combination of these two factors means that the benefits of reducing other greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, could be severely undermined.
The Montreal Protocol was adopted in 1987 and put in place to preserve the ozone layer by gradually phasing out the many substances responsible for ozone depletion. Hence, the introduction of HFCs as refrigerants by the chemical industry as the protocol has now almost entirely diminished the gases predecessor, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Even though CO2 attracts most of the spotlight when it comes to reporting on greenhouse gases, HFCs are in fact 3,830 times more powerful and endure for up to 14 years.
Which is why this agreement carries such enormous significance. The world has united to collectively tackle the threat of climate change. This is a great example of major leaders taking real action on the biggest challenge to face modern society. Now, it’s up to us to spread information such as this in order to better inform the sceptics and denialists. To echo Joe Biden in 2015, denying climate change at this point is like “denying gravity”.
If we missed anything important or if you’d like to know more on a particular aspect of this post, let us know in the comments below.