Efforts to phase out hydrofluorocarbons—a potent greenhouse gas that is still widely used as a coolant—are gaining momentum, with G-7 leaders pledging to take greater action.

In the 17-page Leader’s Declaration of the 7-8 June G7 Summit, the G7 leaders pledged to continue efforts to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and called on all Parties to the Montreal Protocol to negotiate an amendment to the Protocol this year that would sharply reduce HFCs. The leaders also called on donors to assist developing countries in its implementation.

The call was part of a broader climate change pledge to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions at the upper end of a range of 40 to 70 per cent by 2050, using 2010 as the baseline, in alignment with recommendations of the IPCC, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Addressing HFC’s under the Montreal Protocol—which has been successful in reducing ozone depleting chemicals–can deliver the largest and fastest piece of climate mitigation in the near term, and provide powerful momentum for success in Paris at COP 21. Parties to the Protocol will meet in the United Arab Emirates from 1-5 November.

The G-7 announcement on phasing out HFCs comes on the heels of other significant developments. In April India submitted its own proposal to phase down production of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. “Prime Minister Modi is emerging as a leading climate voice on the global stage, and the India HFC proposal is concrete evidence of both his conviction and his sophistication,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance &amp Sustainable Development.

Also, in April, Senegal, on behalf of the 54 countries of Africa, stepped forward with a proposal to immediately start formal negotiations to cut the HFCs. The US, with Canada and Mexico, submitted another version of a proposed HFC amendment earlier in April.

Action to reduce HFCs has also been growing at the sub-national level. Last month, 12 state and province leaders signed the first-of-its-kind agreement, called the “Under 2 MOU”—a memorandum of understanding that would promote joint action to limit climate change to two degrees or less. Collectively representing more than $4.5 trillion in GDP and 100 million people, the 12 leaders of these states and provinces pledged to take action on short-lived climate pollutants among other actions to address climate change. Partners to the agreement include California, USA Acre, Brazil Baden-Württemberg, Germany Baja California, Mexico Catalonia, Spain Jalisco, Mexico and Ontario, Canada, who participated in today’s signing ceremony in Sacramento, as well as British Columbia, Canada Oregon, USA Vermont, USA Washington, USA and Wales, UK.

HFCs are among the fastest growing climate pollutants, increasing by as much as 10-15% per year. Cutting HFCs could avoid the equivalent of up to 100 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by mid-century, and avoid up to 0.5°C by century’s end. They are in the family of short-lived climate pollutants which have relatively short lifetimes in the atmosphere of a few days to a few decades. Fast action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) – especially methane, hydroflurocarbons, black carbon (or soot) and tropospheric ozone – is essential to peoples’ well-being and health, agriculture and to control global temperature increases.