Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development
Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development
News Article | July 14, 2017
Tata Motors Limited and MAHLE have signed a joint development agreement for designing and developing a Secondary Loop Mobile Air Conditioning System (SL-MAC), under the aegis of United Nations Environment. In the SL-MAC system, the alternative refrigerants first cool a secondary fluid/coolant, which in turn cools the air to comfortable temperatures inside the vehicle cabin. This process allows the safe use of slightly flammable refrigerants that have a low GWP and in turn achieves high cooling capacity, minimizing the losses and achieving an optimized overall thermodynamic efficiency in the process. This is in contrast to the conventional mobile AC system, where the cabin air is directly cooled by the refrigerant HFC-134a, which is ozone safe but has a high GWP. The new SL-MAC system, which is testing the low-GWP refrigerants, is expected to increase vehicle energy efficiency. This system will turn off the compressor during acceleration and will retain coolness when the compressor is inactive or the engine is turned off for a short duration, allowing rapid cool-down at re-start. In addition to the expected energy efficiency benefits (fuel saving of up to 3%), the SL-MAC system allows the use of refrigerants that should avoid flow into the vehicle cabin. The refrigerant never enters the passenger compartment and instead stays in the engine area. Only the coolant circulates through the interior air conditioning unit. MAHLE and Tata Motors, along with the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD), which is coordinating the project, received funding for developing the SL-MAC system from the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC), a global initiative to support fast action and make a difference in the areas of climate, public health, and food and energy security. This project envisages use and trial of environment friendly, low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants HF01234yf (ASHRAE A2L) and HFC-152a (ASHRAE A2). ASHRAE is the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. A2L and A2 are safety classifications. A team comprising representatives of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the Mobile Air Conditioning Society Worldwide (MACS), the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), MAHLE, Tata Motors, and IGSD reviewed the newly constructed SL-MAC system and the prototype at the MAHLE Behr facility in Lockport, New York in April. A Tata vehicle based on a new generation platform for utility vehicles, consisting of a more complex architecture with front and rear air conditioning system, has been selected for this joint development program. The SL-MAC system will first be installed in the Tata utility vehicle as a prototype. The Secondary Loop System will permit the use of alternative refrigerants like HFC-152a (GWP of 138) and HFO-1234yf (GWP<1) which have much lower GWPs than the current most-commonly used refrigerant, HFC-134a (GWP of 1300). We will be comparing the life-cycle carbon footprint of HFC-152a—with a higher GWP offset by higher energy efficiency—to the carbon footprint of HFO-1234yf, and we will be estimating the cost of manufacture and ownership for each system. The SL-MAC project is on schedule, as expected, with anticipated environmental and cost advantages to be determined in the next stages. The prototype will be tested on the Indian roads later in the third quarter of 2017, where long seasons of hot and humid weather and stop-start driving conditions make a secondary loop air conditioning system highly advantageous.
News Article | October 15, 2016
A global deal to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in the battle to combat climate change is a “monumental step forward”, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, has said. The agreement, announced on Saturday morning after all-night negotiations in Kigali, Rwanda, caps and reduces the use of HFCs – a key contributor to greenhouse gases – in a gradual process beginning in 2019, with action by developed countries including the US, the world’s second worst polluter. More than 100 developing countries, including China, the world’s top carbon dioxide emitter, will start taking action in 2024, sparking concern from some groups that the action would be implemented too slowly to make a difference. A small group of countries, including India, Pakistan and some Gulf states, also pushed for and secured a later start in 2028, saying their economies need more time to grow. That is three years earlier than India, the world’s third worst polluter, had first proposed. Worldwide use of HFCs has soared in the past decade as rapidly growing countries like China and India have widely adopted air conditioning in homes, offices and cars. But HFC gases are thousands of times more destructive to the climate than carbon dioxide, and scientists say their growing use threatens to undermine the Paris accord by 195 countries, an agreement last year to reduce climate emissions. President Barack Obama praised the deal on Saturday morning, calling the agreement “an ambitious and far reaching solution” to a “rapidly growing threat to the health of our planet”. “In addition to today’s amendment, countries last week crossed the threshold for the Paris Agreement to enter into force and reached a deal to constrain international aviation emissions,” he said in a statement. “Together, these steps show that, while diplomacy is never easy, we can work together to leave our children a planet that is safer, more prosperous, more secure, and more free than the one that was left for us.” Kerry said on Saturday: “It’s a monumental step forward that addresses the needs of individual nations but it will give us the opportunity to reduce the warming of the planet by an entire half a degree centigrade. Agreeing a deal to phase down the use of HFCs is the single most important step we can take to limit the warming of the planet. We all know that the window of time that we have to prevent the worst climate impacts from happening is in fact narrowing, and it is closing fast.” Environmental groups had hoped the deal could reduce global warming by a half a degree celsius by the end of this century. This agreement gets about 90% of the way there, said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. Zaelke’s group said this would mean the “largest temperature reduction ever achieved by a single agreement”. The new agreement is “equal to stopping the entire world’s fossil-fuel CO emissions for more than two years,” said David Doniger, climate and clean air programme director with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Experts said they hoped market forces would help speed up the limits agreed to in the deal. “Compromises had to be made, but 85% of developing countries have committed to the early schedule starting 2024, which is a very significant achievement,” Clare Perry of the Environmental Investigation Agency said. HFCs were introduced in the 1980s as a substitute for ozone-depleting gases but are now considered a uniquely dangerous threat to the climate. According to the Berkeley National Laboratory, about 1.6bn new air-conditioning units are expected to be switched on by 2050, with the potential of raising global temperatures significantly. Air conditioning is largest cause of HFC growth, but the gases are also used in fire suppressants, insulating foams, inhalers and data centre cooling systems. Major economies have debated how fast to phase out HFCs. The US and other western countries want quick action. Nations such as India want to give their industries more time to adjust. Small island states and many African countries had pushed for quick action, saying they face the biggest threat from climate change. “It may not be entirely what the islands wanted, but it is a good deal,” the minister-in-assistance to the president of the Marshall Islands, Mattlan Zackhras, said. “We all know we must go further, and we will go further.” HFCs are less plentiful than CO , but Kerry said last month that they currently emit as much pollution as 300 coal-fired power plants each year. HFCs do not harm the ozone layer like chlorofluorocarbons and similar gases that were eliminated under the 1987 Montreal Protocol. The entire world ratified that agreement, helping to repair holes in the ozone that help shield the planet from the harmful rays of the sun. The aim of this meeting was to attach an amendment to that treaty dealing specifically with HFCs.
News Article | September 14, 2017
A new study evaluating models of future climate scenarios has led to the creation of the new risk categories "catastrophic" and "unknown" to characterize the range of threats posed by rapid global warming. Researchers propose that unknown risks imply existential threats to the survival of humanity. These categories describe two low-probability but statistically significant scenarios that could play out by century's end, in a new study by Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a distinguished professor of climate and atmospheric sciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, and his former Scripps graduate student Yangyang Xu, now an assistant professor at Texas A&M University. The risk assessment stems from the objective stated in the 2015 Paris Agreement regarding climate change that society keep average global temperatures "well below" a 2°C (3.6°F) increase from what they were before the Industrial Revolution. Even if that objective is met, a global temperature increase of 1.5°C (2.7°F) is still categorized as "dangerous," meaning it could create substantial damage to human and natural systems. A temperature increase greater than 3°C (5.4°F) could lead to what the researchers term "catastrophic" effects, and an increase greater than 5°C (9°F) could lead to "unknown" consequences which they describe as beyond catastrophic including potentially existential threats. The specter of existential threats is raised to reflect the grave risks to human health and species extinction from warming beyond 5° C, which has not been experienced for at least the past 20 million years. The scientists term warming probability of five percent or less as a "low-probability high-impact" scenario and assess such scenarios in the analysis "Well Below 2°C: Mitigation strategies for avoiding dangerous to catastrophic climate changes," which will appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept. 14. Ramanathan and Xu also describe three strategies for preventing the gravest threats from taking place. "When we say five percent-probability high-impact event, people may dismiss it as small but it is equivalent to a one-in-20 chance the plane you are about to board will crash," said Ramanathan. "We would never get on that plane with a one-in-20 chance of it coming down but we are willing to send our children and grandchildren on that plane." The researchers defined the risk categories based on guidelines established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and previous independent studies. "Dangerous" global warming includes consequences such as increased risk of extreme weather and climate events ranging from more intense heat waves, hurricanes, and floods, to prolonged droughts. Planetary warming between 3°C and 5°C could trigger what scientists term "tipping points" such as the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and subsequent global sea-level rise, and the dieback of the Amazon rainforest. In human systems, catastrophic climate change is marked by deadly heat waves becoming commonplace, exposing over 7 billion people to heat related mortalities and famine becoming widespread. Furthermore, the changes will be too rapid for most to adapt to, particularly the less affluent, said Ramanathan. Risk assessments of global temperature rise greater than 5°C have not been undertaken by the IPCC. Ramanathan and Xu named this category "unknown??" with the question marks acknowledging the "subjective nature of our deduction." The existential threats could include species extinctions and major threats to human water and food supplies in addition to the health risks posed by exposing over 7 billion people worldwide to deadly heat. With these scenarios in mind, the researchers identified what measures can be taken to slow the rate of global warming to avoid the worst consequences, particularly the low-probability high-impact events. Aggressive measures to curtail the use of fossil fuels and emissions of so-called short-lived climate pollutants such as soot, methane and HFCs would need to be accompanied by active efforts to extract CO2 from the air and sequester it before it can be emitted. It would take all three efforts to meet the Paris Agreement goal to which countries agreed at a landmark United Nations climate conference in Nov 2015. Xu and Ramanathan point out that the goal is attainable. Global CO2 emissions had grown at a rate of 2.9 percent per year between 2000 and 2011, but had slowed to a near-zero growth rate by 2015. They credited drops in CO2 emissions from the United States and China as the primary drivers of the trend. Increases in production of renewable energy, especially wind and solar power, have also bent the curve of emissions trends downward. Other studies have estimated that there was by 2015 enough renewable energy capacity to meet nearly 24 percent of global electricity demand. Short-lived climate pollutants are so called because even though they warm the planet more efficiently than carbon dioxide, they only remain in the atmosphere for a period of weeks to roughly a decade whereas carbon dioxide molecules remain in the atmosphere for a century or more. The authors also note that most of the technologies needed to drastically curb emissions of short-lived climate pollutants already exist and are in use in much of the developed world. They range from cleaner diesel engines to methane-capture infrastructure. "While these are encouraging signs, aggressive policies will still be required to achieve carbon neutrality and climate stability," the authors wrote. The release of the study coincides with the start of Climate Week NYC in New York, a summit of business and government leaders to highlight global climate action. Ramanathan and colleagues will deliver a complementary report detailing the "three-lever" mitigation strategy of emissions control and carbon sequestration on Sept. 18 at the United Nations. That report was produced by the Committee to Prevent Extreme Climate Change, chaired by Ramanathan, Nobel Prize winner Mario Molina of UC San Diego, and Durwood Zaelke, who leads an advocacy organization, the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, with 30 experts from around the world including China and India. At the University of California San Diego, we constantly push boundaries and challenge expectations. Established in 1960, UC San Diego has been shaped by exceptional scholars who aren't afraid to take risks and redefine conventional wisdom. Today, as one of the top 15 research universities in the world, we are driving innovation and change to advance society, propel economic growth, and make our world a better place. Learn more at http://www. . Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, is one of the most important centers for global science research and education in the world. Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution includes biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical, and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs to further our understanding of the planet are under way today on every continent and in every ocean. Birch Aquarium at Scripps serves as the interpretive center of the institution and showcases Scripps research and a diverse array of marine life for more than 430,000 visitors each year. Learn more at scripps.ucsd.edu.
Houfu Y.,Beijing Normal University |
Xiaopu S.,Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development
Environmental Practice | Year: 2013
Serious environmental pollution incidents happen in China every year. However, only a few of them have been filed as environmental pollution criminal cases. We argue in this paper that the main reason is because the environmental administrative agencies often refuse to transfer the suspected environmental pollution criminal cases to the judicial authorities. Therefore, it's critical to better supervise the transfer of cases from the environmental administrative agencies, in order to ensure the implementation of the criminal laws and regulations, as well as to pressing criminal charges on the suspects instead of having them get away with administrative penalties. The supervision mechanisms include at least the interior supervision by other administrative agencies and the exterior supervision by the general public. An effectively functioning environmental criminal law system is very important for environmental protection and rule of law in China. © 2013 National Association of Environmental Professionals.
Velders G.J.M.,National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM |
Fahey D.W.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration |
Daniel J.S.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration |
Andersen S.O.,Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development |
Atmospheric Environment | Year: 2015
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are manufactured for use as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances that are being phased out globally under Montreal Protocol regulations. While HFCs do not deplete ozone, many are potent greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Here, new global scenarios show that baseline emissions of HFCs could reach 4.0-5.3 GtCO2-eq yr-1 in 2050. The new baseline (or business-as-usual) scenarios are formulated for 10 HFC compounds, 11 geographic regions, and 13 use categories. The scenarios rely on detailed data reported by countries to the United Nations; projections of gross domestic product and population; and recent observations of HFC atmospheric abundances. In the baseline scenarios, by 2050 China (31%), India and the rest of Asia (23%), the Middle East and northern Africa (11%), and the USA (10%) are the principal source regions for global HFC emissions; and refrigeration (40-58%) and stationary air conditioning (21-40%) are the major use sectors. The corresponding radiative forcing could reach 0.22-0.25 W m-2 in 2050, which would be 12-24% of the increase from business-as-usual CO2 emissions from 2015 to 2050. National regulations to limit HFC use have already been adopted in the European Union, Japan and USA, and proposals have been submitted to amend the Montreal Protocol to substantially reduce growth in HFC use. Calculated baseline emissions are reduced by 90% in 2050 by implementing the North America Montreal Protocol amendment proposal. Global adoption of technologies required to meet national regulations would be sufficient to reduce 2050 baseline HFC consumption by more than 50% of that achieved with the North America proposal for most developed and developing countries. © 2015 The Authors.
Andersen S.O.,Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development |
Halberstadt M.L.,Michigan Retired Engineer Technical Assistance Foundation |
Borgford-Parnell N.,Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development
Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association | Year: 2013
In 1974, Mario Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland warned that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) could destroy the stratospheric ozone layer that protects Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. In the decade after, scientists documented the buildup and long lifetime of CFCs in the atmosphere; found the proof that CFCs chemically decomposed in the stratosphere and catalyzed the depletion of ozone; quantified the adverse effects; and motivated the public and policymakers to take action. In 1987, 24 nations plus the European Community signed the Montreal Protocol. Today, 25 years after the Montreal Protocol was agreed, every United Nations state is a party (universal ratification of 196 governments); all parties are in compliance with the stringent controls; 98% of almost 100 ozone-depleting chemicals have been phased out worldwide; and the stratospheric ozone layer is on its way to recovery by 2065. A growing coalition of nations supports using the Montreal Protocol to phase down hydrofluorocarbons, which are ozone safe but potent greenhouse gases. Without rigorous science and international consensus, emissions of CFCs and related ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) could have destroyed up to two-thirds of the ozone layer by 2065, increasing the risk of causing millions of cancer cases and the potential loss of half of global agricultural production. Furthermore, because most ODSs are also greenhouse gases, CFCs and related ODSs could have had the effect of the equivalent of 24-76 gigatons per year of carbon dioxide. This critical review describes the history of the science of stratospheric ozone depletion, summarizes the evolution of control measures and compliance under the Montreal Protocol and national legislation, presents a review of six separate transformations over the last 100 years in refrigeration and air conditioning (A/C) technology, and illustrates government-industry cooperation in continually improving the environmental performance of motor vehicle A/C. The comforts and conveniences of modern life are largely taken for granted. When purchasing a product, consumers are usually not concerned with how or why it works, often assuming the product is safe to use and safe for the environment. This critical review addresses why such general public acceptance and complacency is not always the best policy. The paper explains how early warnings given by vigilant scientists highlighted the dangers of ODS and calls for action and boycotts by concerned citizens 35 years ago and regulatory actions taken by governments worldwide 25 years ago successfully phased out ODSs and avoided global catastrophe. It also highlights new opportunities for the Montreal Protocol to further protect against climate change. The implication is that scientific vigilance, public policy, and citizen action have protected and can protect Earth for future generations. Supplemental Materials: Supplemental materials are available for this paper. Go to the publisher's online edition of the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association. © 2013 Copyright 2013 A&WMA.
News Article | December 21, 2016
World leaders should redouble efforts to cut soot emissions because it is the cheapest and fastest way to combat climate change, climate scientists and advocates have told the Guardian. Deposits of soot – unburned carbon particles – have stained parts of the Arctic black, changing the ice from a reflector of sunlight to an absorber of heat, and accelerating the melting of ice and snow, which itself is starting to alter global weather patterns. Some scientists believe reducing the concentration of soot particles and other so-called “short-lived climate pollutants” entering the atmosphere may be easier in the short term than bringing down carbon dioxide emissions. Such a “quick win” would be important to provide breathing space while world populations reduce their use of fossil fuels, scientists say. Paul Bledsoe, a former White House adviser who has worked on climate science issues for a decade, said: “Limiting short-lived climate pollutants is the cheapest, fastest way to prevent ice melt globally, particularly in the Arctic.” Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, said: “You can’t solve a fast-moving problem like Arctic warming without fast-moving solutions. Cutting the short lived-climate pollutants is the fastest solution we’ve got. “Cutting these super climate pollutants can cut Arctic warming by two-thirds in the near term.” The vast expanse of ice and snow covering the Arctic may look startlingly white from a distance, but on closer examination the glaciers and snow cover are patched by dark streaks of inky black and dusty grey and brown. Some are small and self-contained; others are miles long. All are the mark of man. Hailong Wang, an atmospheric scientist at the US Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, said that both observational and modelling evidence showed that soot was warming the Arctic. “The warming effect could be through the direct heating to the air, snow and sea ice by absorbing sunlight, and then accelerating the melting of snow and sea ice,” Wang said. “When the melting starts, there are positive feedback processes that can lead to even faster melting.” Work by Piers Forster, a professor of physical climate change at the University of Leeds, and Maria Sands, a researcher at Norway’s Cicero institute, and their colleagues, has established that reducing soot emissions could lower Arctic temperatures by 0.2C within a few decades – a valuable contribution, considering that the commitment made in the Paris agreement was to hold temperature rises to no more than 1.5C or 2C. The Arctic bears what could be considered more than its fair share of the world’s pollution. Industry and tourism in the region are tiny, though mining and oil companies continue to eye-up potential sites as the permafrost retreats. The dirt that scars the Arctic landscape is not local: rather, ocean and air currents carry substances – soot, heavy metals, plastic particles, and more – fromacross the globe to deposit them in this pristine environment. Chemical pollution has even been found to cause brain damage in polar bears. Soot in the atmosphere has been calculated to be capable of causing warming of about 0.5C in the Arctic, from heating of the atmosphere and melting of snow. This amounts to about a quarter of the observed warming since pre-industrial times. However, the picture is more complicated than these raw figures might suggest. Unburned carbon particles and gases, such as sulphur dioxide, which often accompany soot production, can have an aerosol cooling effect, because in the atmosphere they can deflect heat from the sun back into space. This process, sometimes called global dimming, makes it hard to estimate the final effects of the pollution. While mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl) and other pollutants persist for decades, soot is a less permanent problem. “Unlike greenhouse gases, soot particles are relatively short-lived in the atmosphere. The average lifetime is around a week or two,” says Wang. “New snowfall [can also] cover them [the soot particles] pretty quickly.” And this, according to Zaelke, is what makes soot so important. “Speed is the key metric here, that we haven’t paid enough attention to [in discussions over climate change],” he said. “We have been looking at slow-moving solutions [such as reducing greenhouse gases] and we need to catch up. We need to do something about near-term warming if we are going to stabilise the climate.” Greenhouse gases are produced by a wide range of human industries: generating electricity, driving, flying, raising cattle, making cement, agricultural fertilisers, and many more. Soot comes from a smaller subset of these activities. Coal-fired power stations are a leading source, as are dirty vehicle engines, and industrial chimneys, but even in developing countries where people have little access to electricity and powered transport, soot is produced by indoor fires used for cooking and heating. Global warming is not the only impact. Soot is behind human health problems from Beijing to Burundi, as the particles are breathed into lungs where they remain, causing and exacerbating respiratory diseases. Smoky fuels kill more than 4 million people a year, according to the World Health Organisation – a disproportionate number of them women and children, from dirty cooking fires. Dealing with soot, therefore, is not only a win for the climate, but for people’s health. Forster and Sand have identified three measures as potentially the most effective: reducing the domestic burning of wood in Asia, cutting the flaring of gas in Russia, and reducing emissions from diesel vehicles globally. The technology to do all of these is available. Gas flaring is not only unnecessary but inefficient, as captured waste gases can be used for fuel. Scrubbers can also be fitted to the chimneys of fossil fuel power stations. Car engines can be fitted with filters, as they are in many developed countries, to remove the dirt from exhausts. Cooking fires are individually harder to reach, but in many areas of the world simple solar cookers could be used that would not only reduce deaths from pollution but ease the lives of women and girls for whom the drudgery of finding fuel each day can be physically demanding, and put a brake on education and development. History shows that while these measures can involve some upfront costs, these are quickly repaid in quality of life. Londoners, for example, took pea-soupers as a fact of life before clean air legislation was passed following the deadly smogs of the early 1950s. With the right regulation and political will, soot could be made a historical curiosity across the globe. Forster said: “The measures [to reduce soot] would also help by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. They would also kick in faster – within 10 years of the emissions reduction – whereas CO2 emissions reductions just slow the rate of warming. You need negative [CO2] emissions for a CO2 cooling effect.” Mike Childs, head of policy at Friends of the Earth, said: “With scientists recognising that soot ranks second only behind carbon dioxide in terms of global warming, it’s crucial that this pollution is cut to help avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Tackling soot would be a win-win, because it will bring enormous health benefits by cutting air pollution too. Governments must act now, and act fast.” These actions will only be effective as part of a broader push to tackle carbon emissions. Although dealing with soot could be an important way of heading off one of the threats to the Arctic and the world, it cannot be a substitute for acting on warming gases more widely. “Greenhouse gases are still the major player in causing the overall melting of the Arctic,” said Wang. Stopping soot pollution could give us a vital breathing space, but an effective end to global warming – and Arctic melting – will require much more.
News Article | December 5, 2015
As world leaders grapple with how to cut global emissions of carbon dioxide, diplomats in Paris are recording progress in combating other pollutants that scientists believe are contributing powerfully to rising temperatures. A coalition of governments and private businesses has agreed to take up a series of initiatives to limit so-called “short-lived climate pollutants,” ranging from industrial chemicals used in refrigerators to soot particles given off by diesel engines. While emissions of these pollutants are small compared to carbon dioxide, some are vastly more powerful, pound for pound, in trapping heat in the Earth’s lower atmosphere. Participants in the efforts say controlling these pollutants could offer a way to slow global warming in the coming decades while giving scientists and policymakers more time to tackle the bigger challenge of curbing carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. “This will produce the biggest single piece of climate mitigation in the near term and avoid a half degree Celsius of warming by the end of the century,” Durwood Zaelke, founder of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development and an expert in international environmental law, told a news conference Friday at the Paris climate talks. In fighting climate change, “speed matters profoundly,” he said. Short-lived climate pollutants are so named because they dissipate relatively quickly in the environment — in years or decades, compared to hundreds or thousands of years for carbon dioxide. They include methane, a naturally occurring gas that is also given off in large quantities by oil and gas operations, farms and landfills; common industrial coolants called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs; and “black carbon,” which consists mostly of soot particles. When black carbon settles on snow and ice it darkens the surface, drawing more heat from the sun and causing faster melting. On Friday, officials in Paris announced plans to broaden the Green Freight Action Plan, a coalition of 20 countries and several major corporations, including Volvo and Hewlett Packard, to reduce diesel soot from the transportation sector, especially heavy trucks and cargo ships. Separately, a business group called the Global Food Cold Chain Council announced new steps to cut back on the use of HFCs in commercial and industrial refrigeration. Dozens of U.S. companies are already participating in voluntary measures to speed up the shift from HFCs to alternative chemicals that are safer for the environment. Last month, more than 190 nations agreed in principle to scale back global production of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, the 1989 accord that banned production of chemicals that damage the Earth’s ozone layer. Details are to be finalized at an international conference in Dubai next year. “This collaboration is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when all parties work together in good faith to achieve a common goal,” said Stephen Yurek, president of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, the U.S. trade association representing refrigerant producers and air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment manufacturers. Multiple efforts already are underway to limit methane, which currently accounts for about 25 percent of the greenhouse-gas problem, experts say. Environmental and industry groups have launched initiatives to cut down on leaks of methane gas from oil and gas fields, the single biggest source of man-made emissions. Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said reducing such leaks offers a fast way to gain ground in the fight against climate change. “The higher temperatures get in the short run, the more likely it is that we are going to pass a trigger point that leads to runaway warming,” Krupp said. Cutting methane leaks “gives us an opportunity to minimize that risk,” he said.
News Article | October 13, 2016
Delegates attend the official opening of the 28th meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Kigali on October 13, 2016 (AFP Photo/Cyril Ndegeya) Kigali (AFP) - Rwanda's President Paul Kagame urged world leaders to rid the world of potent greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners, as he opened a high-level meeting in Kigali Thursday. Envoys from nearly 200 nations are in the Rwandan capital to thrash out an agreement to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which were introduced in the 1990s to save the ozone layer -- but turned out to be catastrophic for global warming. Halting the use of HFCs -- also found in aerosols and foam insulation -- is crucial to meeting the goals to curb the rise of global temperatures agreed in a historic accord drafted in Paris last year. "We should not allow ourselves to be satisfied with making a little bit of good progress when it is within our power to actually solve the problem," Kagame told the meeting, attended by representatives of 197 countries. US Secretary of State John Kerry is among the 40 ministers expected. Kagame, whose small east African nation has put the environment at the heart of its development strategy, said that eradicating HFCs "will make our world safer and more prosperous". Maxime Beaugrand of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development was positive that there would be an agreement Friday to phase out HFCs. "Negotiations are moving in the right direction. I think we can expect an amendment tomorrow in Kigali and I think it will be sufficiently ambitious," she told AFP. HFCs predecessors, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), were discontinued under the ozone-protecting Montreal Protocol when scientists realised the compounds were responsible for the growing hole in the ozone layer, which protects Earth from the Sun's dangerous ultraviolet rays. However it emerged that HFCs -- while safe for the now-healing ozone -- are thousands of times worse for trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. "(HFCs) are increasing at a rate of 10-15 percent a year," Greenpeace global strategist Paula Carbajal told AFP. "That makes them the fastest-growing greenhouse gas." According to a study by the Berkeley National Laboratory, residential air conditioning is the cause of the largest growth in HFCs -- and the world is likely to have another 700 million air conditioners by 2030. "The world room air conditioner market is growing fast with increasing urbanisation, electrification, rising incomes and falling air conditioner prices in many developing economies." Beaugrand said alternatives to HFCs existed in all refrigeration sectors. These alternatives "either have less of a warming potential than HFCs or they are natural like ammonia". Other alternatives are water and gases called hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) which are a form of HFCs, however some, like Greenpeace, believe these are still too dangerous. Carbajal said HFCs could add as much as 0.1 degrees celsius (0.18 Fahrenheit) to average global temperatures by mid-century, and 0.5 degrees celsius (0.9 F) by 2100. The Paris climate agreement aims to keep global warming below two degrees celsius, compared with pre-industrial levels, and continued use of HFCs could prove a serious stumbling block to attaining the goal. "If HFC growth is not stopped, it becomes virtually impossible to meet the Paris goals," said David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group. HFCs -- though they are greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide -- are not dealt with under the Paris Agreement but under the Montreal Protocol, adopted in 1987. Negotiators are weighing various proposals for amending the protocol to freeze HFC production and use, with possible dates for such moves ranging from almost immediately to as late as 2031. India -- which is a major HFC producer along with China -- backs the later date, while countries in very hot parts of the world where HFC-using air conditioners are in high demand, want temporary exemptions. Last month, a group of developed countries and companies offered $80 million (72 million euros) to help developing countries make the switch away from HFCs. "No one, frankly, will forgive you nor me if we cannot find a compromise at this conference because this is one of the cheapest, one of the easiest, one of the lowest hanging fruits in the entire household of climate mitigation," Erik Solheim, head of the UN Environment Programme, told delegates.
Andersen S.O.,Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development
Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences | Year: 2015
Ozone protection was the result of professional confidence and sacrifice; brilliant interdisciplinary science and the good fortune of an ozone hole with no explanation other than manufactured fluorocarbons; and industry and government leadership inspired by the realization that life on earth was in jeopardy. In response to the 1974 warning by Dr. Mario Molina and Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were destroying the stratospheric ozone layer, almost 100 ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) have been phased out under the auspices of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Montreal Protocol). This paper describes how the United Nations, national governments, citizens, and companies came together pragmatically for the public good. It describes seminal events where individuals and organizational leaders set the stage, came to agreement, and implemented the technology that protects stratospheric ozone and climate. These individuals, who became “Ozone Champions,” often acted alone and with great courage when they were sideways and crossways to the organizations where they were employed. This paper also describes how practical lessons from the successful Montreal Protocol can guide our global society and how stakeholders can positively influence each other to achieve comprehensive atmospheric protection—including halting climate change. The final section considers how the approaches of the Montreal Protocol can dismiss skepticism and embrace technical optimism in implementing cleaner coal and carbon sequestration, even as society aggressively pursues low-carbon renewable energy, energy efficiency, and a transition to sustainable lifestyles. © 2015, AESS.