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World’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions to be phased down

World’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions to be phased down

The world agrees to phase down the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions

Today the world took another big step towards meeting international climate change goals by agreeing to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), greenhouse gases that can be hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide, used extensively for air-conditioning and refrigeration.

Meeting in Kigali today, countries adopted an amendment to the 1987 ozone-saving Montreal Protocol to phase-down HFCs. The Montreal Protocol has been one of the most successful international agreements, leading to the phase out of 95 percent of ozone-depleting substances.

HFCs are used globally in refrigerators, air-conditioners, foam products, and other items and, today, global HFC emissions are the equivalent of approximately 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. That is the same as emissions from nearly 300 coal-fired power plants or over 200 million passenger vehicles driven for one year, and is expected to grow nearly five-fold by 2050 if no action is taken.

Switching from HFCs to more climate-friendly alternatives is predicted to avoid up to half a degree of global warming by the end of century.

In 2017, Canada will continue to play a leadership role in implementing the Montreal Protocol, including the HFC amendment, by hosting the 29th Meeting of the Parties, which marks the Montreal Protocol’s 30th anniversary.

Quick facts

• HFCs account for less than 2 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Left unchecked, that figure could rise to more than 10 percent by 2050.

• HFCs are the fastest growing GHGs in the world, increasing at a rate of 10 to 15 percent per year. This increase is largely a result of the growing global demand for refrigeration and air conditioning.

• Replacing HFCs with climate-friendly refrigerants and technologies can improve energy efficiency by up to 50 percent and can significantly reduce energy costs for consumers and businesses.

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