Fluorochemicals are regulated under two international agreements; the Montreal Protocol and the Kyoto Protocol. The Montreal Protocol has established production and consumption phase out schedules for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and other ozone depleting substances (ODSs) for all countries. With a very minor exception, CFCs have been phased out globally and the phase out of HCFCs is well under way. As a result of the ozone protection achieved under the Protocol resulting largely from the cooperation of all stakeholders including governments, industry and environmental organizations, the Montreal Protocol is widely considered the most successful global environmental agreement ever adopted; it has been ratified by every United Nations member country.
The Kyoto Protocol set emission reduction targets for a group of greenhouse gases (GHGs) including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) based on their carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq) for developed countries only. The CO2eq of a gas is determined by multiplying the quantity of the gas by its global warming potential (GWP). It should be noted that Kyoto Protocol has not been universally accepted, The Montreal Protocol is well known for protecting stratospheric ozone but is less known for its role in climate protection. CFCs have high GWPs and their phaseout resulted, during the period 2008-2012, in over five times as much climate protection than the Kyoto Protocol targets even considering the climate contribution of HFCs used as replacements for CFCs and HCFCs. HFCs currently contribute less than 1% to global climate change. However, growth in the use and emissions of high GWP HFCs could lead, over the next several decades, to significant climate contributions. There are several important considerations in determining how to prevent these significant contributions. First, most of the growth in use of HFCs is forecast to occur in developing countries where they have no commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. Second, it is impossible to control the HFC emissions from the billions of pieces of equipment and products once they are deployed globally and the Kyoto Protocol is an emissions Protocol. Third, there may be uses where viable low GWP alternatives to high GWP cannot be found. Fourth, HFCs exist only because of the Montreal Protocol: they we're developed as replacements for ODSs. Thus, the Montreal Protocol has the experience for managing these types of compounds in applications where CFCs and HCFCs were once used.
Bases on these and other considerations, each year since 2010 there have been proposals to amend the Montreal Protocol to cap and reduce production and consumption of HFCs. The proposals call for gradual reductions of HFCs on a CO2eq basis and not a phase out of HFCs. Furthermore, the proposed amendment would compliment and not replace the HFC provisions of the Kyoto Protocol. The proposals continue to be under active discussion at Montreal Protocol meetings. GFPF supports the adoption of an amendment that caps and reduces consumption of HFCs on a CO2eq basis.