France hails agreement to phase out HFCs as "historic"
Climate – Montreal Protocol/use of hydrofluorocarbons – Communiqué issued by the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs
Paris, 15 October 2016
A historic agreement was finally secured overnight between the 197 countries party to the Montreal Protocol to reduce the use of HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons).
The agreement will enable the gradual disappearance of HFCs, used in air conditioning (offices, homes and vehicles), domestic appliances, commercial refrigerated display units, restaurants and warehouses. These substances have emerged in recent years to replace substances harmful to the ozone layer (CFCs and HCFCs).
In the absence of an agreement, experts estimated that these substances would be responsible for 20% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 and would cause up to 0.5ºC of global warming between now and 2100.
The agreement reached overnight will lead to a reduction in the use of hydrofluorocarbons when the amendment comes into force, and this will be done gradually to enable replacements to begin in the countries which use the most refrigerant fluids, particularly the United States, the European Union and China. It is also legally binding and includes a timetable for a gradual phase-out in every country.
A revision clause was also added to the agreement to enable a more ambitious timetable to be included taking account of technological progress and the beneficial impact of any sharp reductions already made in the countries that use the most fluids. Ségolène Royal would like this revision to be an opportunity to accelerate the drive, just as the revision of the same protocol to phase out HCFCs led to the timetable being speeded up.
According to the initial estimates in the agreement reached overnight, we can expect the equivalent of some 72 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions to be avoided between now and 2050 (including eight billion tonnes due to European and American legislation adopted recently and included in the agreement).
An additional saving equivalent to some 8-10 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions is also expected from measures to recycle and phase out by-products with high warming potential in industrial units manufacturing HFCs. As a reminder, France’s man-made emissions amount to 0.5 billion tonnes of CO2 a year.
The agreement will also enable the use in homes and businesses of alternative refrigerant fluids which are currently available: hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, ammonia, water and other synthetic chemical substances called hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs).
France, spurred on by Ségolène Royal in particular, has made great efforts in recent months to encourage the agreement: discussions with ministers from other countries, financial commitments, setting an example through calls for projects and funding to finance both R&D activity and the industrial conversion of sites to produce equipment with alternative fluids.
Ségolène Royal stresses that the agreement will enable the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to between 1.5ºC and 2ºC by 2100 to be strengthened./.