Historic deal sealed in Rwanda bids farewell to hydrofluorocarbons

Passo avanti storico nella lotta ai cambiamenti climatici: 197 governi hanno vietato l’uso dei gas idrofluorocarburi, particolarmente nocivi per l’ambiente.

The heads of state of 197 countries have signed a historic agreement aimed at phasing out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are greenhouse gases 14,000 times more potent than CO2. The deal represents a monumental step forward in the fight to combat climate change. It has been reached by the countries that sealed the Montreal Protocol, which was adopted in 1987 and had the goal of phasing out clorofluorocarbons (CFCs), largely used in air-conditioners and refrigerators.

Idrofluorocarburi emendamento kigali
28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, which imposed to phase out hydrofluorocarbons © Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Montreal Protocol, a success story of environmental policies

CFCs are substances responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer and their ban represented a huge environmental success. The confirmation comes from a study, conducted in September 2015 and published in the Science journal, that shows that the ozone hole above Antarctica – mainly caused by human-related activities – has shrunk compared to 2000.

During the 28th Meeting of the Parties held in Kigali, Rwanda, and after 7 years of negotiations, governments decided to continue the positive momentum of the Montreal Protocol. However, Clare Perry, chairperson of the NGO Environmental Investigation Agency, told Le Monde that what convinced governments not to block the deal was “their will to not go down in history as the ones responsible for the failure of the most important climate negotiation of 2016”.

Idrofluorocarburi emendamento kigali
The coordinators of the summit welcome with joy the end of negotiations in Kigali, Rwanda © CYRIL NDEGEYA/AFP/Getty Images

Hydrofluorocarbons have replaced CFCs

Technically, the deal is called the Kigali Amendment. It remedies the only drawback of the phasing out of CFCs set in 1987. Over the years after the adoption of the Montreal Protocol, in fact, hydrofluorocarbons have skyrocketed, as they were used to replace CFCs. Thanks to the deal reached in Rwanda, 72 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent won’t be released into the atmosphere by 2020, an amount equal to Germany’s annual emissions.

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