US, nations nearing a deal on refrigerant emissions

US, nations nearing a deal on refrigerant emissions
© Greg Nash

Several nations, including the United States, are closing in on an agreement to reduce greenhouse gases by cracking down on the use of a refrigerant chemical. 

During a climate conference in Dubai this week, officials agreed to work toward a 2016 deal to cut down on the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Thursday night. 

HFCs, which are used primarily in air conditioning and refrigeration, are a potent greenhouse gas, with climate change potential 10,000 times higher than carbon dioxide. 

The countries — all signatories to the Montreal Protocol, which governs emissions of ozone-depleting substances — will work toward amending the deal next year to slash HFCs. Such a deal, EPA administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Regulation: Dems go on attack during EPA chief's hearing | Mnuchin promises more Russia sanctions | Regulators subpoena major bitcoin exchange | New lawsuit over FDA e-cig rule Overnight Energy: Dems go on attack at EPA chief's hearing | Pruitt backs national fuel standard | Bill Nye sparks controversy with State of the Union plans | Greens sue over wolf protections Dems go on the attack during EPA chief's hearing MORE said in a statement, could avoid 0.5 degrees Celsius of worldwide warming before 2100. 

“The decision charts a course for additional high-level dialogue to reach consensus on setting a timeframe for freezing and ultimately phasing down the production and consumption of HFCs,” McCarthy said in a statement. 

President Obama announced an effort to cut back on HFCs in October, including commitments from the private firms to reduce their use of the chemicals and an EPA initiative to restrict them. 

McCarthy said Thursday that this week’s deal lends momentum to a United Nations climate conference designed to reach a global deal combatting climate change.

“It is a significant accomplishment for climate action on the road to the Paris Climate Conference later this month and sends a strong signal that the international community can come together to confront some of the world's greatest environmental challenges and continue progress toward cutting global greenhouse gas emissions,” she said. 

Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryOvernight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach GOP probes put new focus on State Will FISA secrecy doom democracy? MORE echoed that sentiment in a separate statement.

“The progress in Dubai also indicates that the world is ready for a new chapter in the fight against climate change,” he said. 

“In agreeing to address HFCs together, we have laid the groundwork for even greater co-operation toward a successful outcome in Paris — and the entire planet will be better off for it.”