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STATEMENT: John Podesta on U.S., China, G-20 Support for Montreal Protocol Agreement to Phase Down Hydrofluorocarbons

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Contact: Anne Shoup
Phone: 202.481.7146
Email: ashoup@americanprogress.org

Washington, D.C. — Today, John Podesta, Chair of the Center for American Progress and former White House chief of staff, released the following statement reacting to the news that the United States, China, and the parties of the G-20 are supporting additional measures to use the Montreal Protocol to phase down hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs:

The announcement today that China will join the United States in calling for the creation of a contact group in the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs is another important step for the planet and continuing proof of what our two countries can achieve if they take up the mantle of global climate leaders.

Last June at their Sunnylands summit in California, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping agreed in principle to explore stepping outside of the historically deadlocked U.N. climate negotiations to tackle HFCs, the fastest-growing greenhouse gas, which can be thousands of times more dangerous to the climate system than carbon dioxide. Today, this initiative has become a reality, with the two leaders pushing to initiate the formal process of using the Montreal Protocol to achieve this end. Their first opportunity will come this October when the parties of the protocol convene in Bangkok. This is the same agreement that successfully phased out chlorofluorocarbons, saving the world from the threat of the hole in the ozone layer. It must now be used to eliminate HFCs, which, if left unabated, are projected to increase twenty-fold in the next three decades, comparable to the total current annual emissions from the global transportation sector.

The parallel announcement by the G-20 supporting ambitious outcomes in the U.N. climate talks, and, in tandem, using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs, could greatly expand the community of those prepared for fast action on greenhouse gases now. This statement, echoing the language of the Sunnylands summit, sends a strong signal from the leaders of the world’s largest economies to seek actionable solutions, including steps that could proceed faster than the current U.N. climate negotiations. But time is running out. Acting now to phase down HFCs under the protocol will reduce climate change pollution equivalent to 100 billion tons of CO2 emissions by 2050. It will avoid 0.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century. With climate-driven public health threats and extreme weather already on the rise, all of the G-20 parties, collectively responsible for more than 80 percent of global climate pollution, should follow the example of the United States and China and move rapidly toward a phase down of HFCs as soon as possible.

To speak with an expert on this topic, please contact Anne Shoup at ashoup@americanprogress.org or 202.481.7146.

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