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UN historic deal to cut HFC greenhouse gases signed in Kigali

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Negotiators from nearly 200 nations have clinched a historic deal to phase down emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) — potent greenhouse gases used in air conditioners and refrigerators. The agreement — a major expansion of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which eliminated the use of the ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons — was finalized during a United Nations meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.

About Kigali Protocol :

The Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol to cut the use of potent warming greenhouse gases used in fridges and air conditioning has been described as the single most important step that the world can take to limit global warming.

  • The deal, received with a round of applause in the early hours of Saturday, has delivered on most of the promises made by the member countries last week, getting the world on track to avoid almost 0.5C warming by 2100.
  • The deal, which includes the world’s two biggest economies, the United States and China, divides countries into three groups with different deadlines to reduce the use of factory-made hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases, which can be 10,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as greenhouse gases.
  • The agreement at Kigali came after seven years of negotiations under which the 197 Montreal Protocol parties reached a B
  • Developing countries will follow with a freeze of HFCs consumption levels in 2024, with some countries freezing consumption in 2028. By the late 2040s, all countries are expected to consume no more than 15-20% of their respective baselines. Overall, the agreement is expected to reduce HFC use by 85% by 2045.Kigali Proocol
  • It is noted that between 2020 and 2050, 70 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent, comparable to the emissions of  nearly 500 million cars, will be prevented from entering the atmosphere thanks to a progressive reduction of HFCs.

About HFC :

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), organic compounds that contain fluorine and hydrogen atoms, are the most common type of organic fluorine compounds. They are commonly used inair conditioning and as refrigerants in place of the older chlorofluorocarbons such as R-12 and hydrochlorofluorocarbons such as R-21.

  • They do not harm the ozone layer as much as the compounds they replace; however, they do contribute t oglobal warming. Their atmospheric concentrations and contribution to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly increasing, causing international concern about their radiative forcing.
  • Fluorocarbons with few C-F bonds behave similarly to the parent hydrocarbons, but their reactivity can be altered significantly. For example, both uracil and 5-fluorouracil are colourless, high-melting crystalline solids, but the latter is a potent anti-cancer drug.
  • The use of the C-F bond in pharmaceuticals is predicated on this altered reactivity.Several drugs and agrochemicals contain only one fluorine center or one trifluoromethyl
  • Unlike other greenhouse gases in the Paris Agreement, hydrofluorocarbons have other international negotiations.
  • In September 2016, the so-called New York Declaration urged a global reduction in the use of HFCs. On 15 October 2016, due to these chemicals contribution toclimate change, negotiators from 197 nations meeting at the summit of the United Nations Environment Programme in Kigali, Rwanda reached a legally-binding accord to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in an amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
  • HFCs are currently one of the world’s fastest growing greenhouse gases, and, though their atmospheric concentration is far less than carbon dioxide’s, they pack a much greater warming punch.
  • These gases were introduced as a replacement to the far more dangerous chlorofluorocarbons, which, in addition to being potent greenhouse gases, also damage Earth’s protective ozone layer.
  • Hydrofluorocarbons, or “super greenhouse gases,”are gases used for refrigeration and air conditioning, and known as super greenhouse gases because the combined effect of their soaring use and high global warming potential could undercut the benefits expected from the reduction of other greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
  • Used as refrigerants, they were introduced by the chemical industry to replace ozone destroying CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) which have (almost) been phased out by the Montreal Protocol. HFCs are 3,830 times more potent than CO2 with a lifetime of 14 years.