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Vulnerable Island Nations Call For Urgent Action

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Washington, DC, May 11, 2012 – With prospects for a comprehensive climate treaty now delayed until 2020, the Federated States of Micronesia today called on the 197 Parties to the Montreal Protocol to strengthen climate protection under that treaty by phasing down the production and use of the super-greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs are factory-made chemicals used in refrigeration and insulating foams that have a warming effect hundreds to thousands of times the potency of carbon dioxide. Phasing down HFCs on the Micronesia plan would be equivalent to preventing 100 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

“Phasing out HFCs through the Montreal Protocol is the biggest, fastest and cheapest piece of climate mitigation available to the world in the next few years,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “This courageous island is stepping up to the plate on behalf of all vulnerable nations with the best plan to slow climate change.

An amendment to the Protocol would present developing country Parties with the opportunity to leapfrog HFC gases altogether and transition into ozone- and climate friendly alternatives. HFCs are the current ozone-friendly substitutes for HCFCs, which both warm the planet and damage the ozone layer.

As a direct result of the phase-out of HCFCs, HFCs are the fastest growing greenhouse gases in many countries including the US, where they grew nearly 9% between 2009 and 2010. Without fast action to limit their growth, the climate forcing of HFCs could equal nearly 20% of CO2 emissions by 2050, or about the same as current annual emissions from transport, and up to 45% of carbon dioxide emissions if those emissions are limited in line with present international goals.

“Solving one problem while exacerbating another is not acceptable,” said Zaelke. “As we finally begin to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, we cannot at the same time allow the equivalent of over 100 billion tons of carbon dioxide to be manufactured and released into the atmosphere.”

Micronesia has a history of success at bringing about effective climate mitigation under the Montreal Protocol. In 2007, the Montreal Protocol Parties agreed to an historic Micronesia-proposed decision to accelerate the phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). Since then, support for phasing down the substitute HFCs under the Montreal Protocol has been steadily increasing. Since 2011, over 108 nations have followed Micronesia’s lead in calling for HCFCs to be replaced with chemicals that have a low impact on global warming.

Initial discussions on the two proposals will take place at the Montreal Protocol’s Open-Ended Working Group meeting July 23-27, in Bangkok; final decisions will be taken at the Meeting of the Parties November 12-16, in Geneva.

The Micronesia Amendment can be found here: http://conf.montreal-protocol.org/meeting/oewg/oewg-32/presession/PreSession%20Documents/OEWG-32-5E.pdf.

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