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Ministers and top UN leaders have urged the world's nations to quickly ratify an international agreement that could prevent up to half a degree of global warming this century.
Dr. Vincent Biruta, Minister of Environment of the Republic of Rwanda, and Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change of Canada, hosted a high-level event at the United Nations General Assembly on September 18 to press for ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
So far six countries – Mali, the Federate States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Rwanda, Palau, and Norway – have ratified the amendment, which was adopted on the 14th of October 2016, and many others having begun the ratification process. It will enter into force on 1 January, 2019, provided at least 20 countries ratify the amendment.
We have come together to encourage quick ratification of the Kigali Amendment, in doing so we send a strong signal that the world is united in ending the use of HFCs and protecting our climateVincent Biruta
The Montreal Protocol has helped the Earth's vital ozone layer recover from damage caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and done more to phase out greenhouse gases than any other measure. It is often called the most succesful environemnt agreement of all time.
At the event – two days after the 30th anniversary of the agreement of the Protocol – Mr. Biruta, who presided over the negotiations that passed the Kigali Amendment, said: “We have come together to encourage quick ratification of the Kigali Amendment, in doing so we send a strong signal that the world is united in ending the use of HFCs and protecting our climate.”
Canada and Chile, earlier this year called for “at least 30 Partners to ratify the Amendment by the 30th anniversary meeting of the Montreal Protocol on November 20-24, 2017”.
“We need to get this done… and if everyone just asks one friend…one other minister of environment to encourage them to ratify, we will be able to have a great celebration," Catherine McKenna, said.
Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment and event panelist, who has also urged for rapid ratification on this anniversary, reminded the group the crucial role energy efficiency improvements plays in the Amendment.
“Providing air conditioning is wellbeing, it is health, but we need to do it in a much more energy efficient way. The technology is there to be explored and I am absolutely confident that if we as politicians give the direction, the private sector and market will find the technical solutions for this to happen," Mr Solheim said. "They are on the way; they just need to go all the way.”
Tina Birmpili, Executive Secretary of the UN Ozone Secretariat, added: “2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the Protocol’s life and there is no better way to celebrate this anniversary than by seeking country support to ratify the Kigali Amendment and build on the next 30 years.”
The Kigali Amendment provides the largest, fastest, and most secure climate mitigation available in the near-term, avoiding up to 0.5°C of warming by the end of the century. The HFC phasedown will also enable the improvement of the energy efficiency of air conditioners, refrigerators, and other products and equipment that use HFCs as refrigerants. This will avoid significant amounts of CO2 emissions from the power plants that provide the electricity to run these products and equipment, equal to the production from between nearly 1,600 medium-sized (500 MW) peak-load power plants by 2030, and up to 2,500 power plants by 2050.
Panelists at the event included:
You can view the event on UN Web TV here.