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Making the Protocols work harder

Background - 11 September, 2009
The Montreal Protocol has been a great example of countries working together to address the ozone as a global problem. But if the ozone-depleting gases are replaced by HFCs, they will create a rapid increase in greenhouse gases, adding to our climate change problems.

Right now, the world is at a cross-road where it can decide what gas to use to replace the climate-damaging gases of HCFCs and HFCs. The many alternatives to HCFCs and HFCs include natural refrigerants (CO2, hydrocarbons, ammonia, water); secondary cooling systems; desiccant cooling; evaporative cooling, absorption cooling; and innovative building designs that cut mechanical cooling altogether.

Greenpeace has pushed for F-gases to be tackled by the international protocols - Montreal and Kyoto - and has lobbied environmental ministers and regulatory bodies. What we need now is for the Montreal and Kyoto protocols to work together, and to enforce a phase-out of HFCs in the same time frame as the ozone-depleting gases (2020 and 2030 for developed and developing countries, respectively).

Greenpeace demands elimination of all F-gases in the next climate deal. National governments must set phase-out dates and promote the uptake of natural refrigerants. We also must contain all of the F-gases currently found in old refrigeration. A global network is required to capture and safely destroy the hundreds of thousands of tonnes present in the world today.

New technologies and strong legislation together will eliminate these dangerous man-made gases.

A fair deal for developing countries

Alternative commercial technologies to HFCs are abundant and new HFC-free products are entering the market almost weekly. The technologies used today in industrialised countries could easily be transferred to the developing world.

In fact, developing countries could just leap-frog HFCs completely and go straight to long term solutions that rely on natural refrigerants and foam blowing agents. They would avoid expensive, in-efficient gases that will need to be phased out anyway to fight global warming.

How to get there

The Montreal Protocol should act as a key facilitating body for limiting the production and consumption of HFCs around the world, through technology development and cooperation and capacity building. The funding policies of the Montreal Protocol must ensure that the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol will no longer fund HFC projects. Otherwise, the Montreal Protocol will become a serious contributor to climate change, replacing HCFCs with HFCs, chemicals even more harmful to the climate.Our proposed measures for how the international community can limit further damage from CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs are:

  • An international HFC phase-out arrangement of F-gases at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, December 2009 in at least the same time frame as HCFCs. This will guide industry in both industrialised and developing countries towards readily available HFC-free technologies. It will also boost research and development of additional HFC-free alternatives.
  • Additions to the Montreal Protocol so it reduces emissions of F-gases stored in products and equipment (so-called 'banks'). Assessments of the size of the banks are happening right now in co-operation with the UNFCC Kyoto Protocol. Ultimately, the protocol should develop financial support for a new global network for the recapture and safe destruction of these substances.