Policy ForumClimate Change

Preserving Montreal Protocol Climate Benefits by Limiting HFCs

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Science  24 Feb 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6071, pp. 922-923
DOI: 10.1126/science.1216414

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The Montreal Protocol is perhaps the most successful international environmental treaty, responsible for global phaseout of the consumption and production of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs), e.g., chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which do not destroy stratospheric ozone, were considered long-term substitutes for ODSs and are not controlled by the Montreal Protocol. Because most HFCs are potent greenhouse gases (GHGs), they are included in the Kyoto Protocol. But climate benefits provided by this protocol are limited as they apply only to developed countries and over a short time (2008–2012). As we describe below, with no impending global controls on HFCs, inclusion of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol offers a path, starting in the short term, to preserve the climate benefits already achieved by this protocol.