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US Congress presses Secretary Kerry to make super greenhouse gases (HFCs) a priority in India

As the nations of the world prepare to meet next week at the open ended working group of the Montreal Protocol in Bangkok, Thailand, Secretary of State John Kerry prepares to travel to India for the fourth U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue. Sec. Kerry should seize the overlap of these important meetings to urge the Indian government to take concrete steps to significantly reduce climate change. The most cost effective way currently available, is to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol.

HFCs are synthetic chemicals, primarily used in refrigeration, air conditioning and foam blowing, which were commercialized to replace the high-global warming potential zone-depleting chemicals phased out by the Montreal Protocol over the past 25 years. HFCs are extremely harmful to the climate, with global warming potentials hundreds and thousands of times higher than carbon dioxide (CO2). Fortunately, commercially available, climate friendly alternatives exist for most of their uses and others are expected to become available during the period of the phase-down.

Under the Montreal Protocol, all 197 Parties have accepted firm reduction commitments. These commitments are based upon the legal principle of common but differentiated responsibilities that incorporates a grace period for developing countries. Through a phase-down of HFCs Sec. Kerry aptly pointed out in an opinion piece published by Grist, we “could eliminate nearly two years’ worth of current global greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2050.”

23 Members of Congress understand the importance of phasing down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, and today sent a bicameral letter to Secretary Kerry urging for action on HFCs, stating that “No single action on India’s part would speak louder than to reconsider a phase-down of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.” EIA agrees that Sec. Kerry can and must use his leadership again to send a clear and unmistakable signal to the Parties meeting in Bangkok to take action now, and pass a phase-down of HFCs at the Montreal Protocol.