Montreal Protocol Won't Address Super Greenhouse Gases

Last week the 198 nations of the Montreal Protocol met for annual talks in Egypt. Proposals to expand the ozone-protection treaty to include "super greenhouse gases" have gathered a bit of buzz in recent weeks, as world leaders–including the Obama administration–suggested the treaty might serve as a tool for combating global climate change.

But ultimately the proposals went nowhere, as negotiators turned to the kind of rhetoric that has slowed climate change negotiations, according to a Reuters report. 

So-called super greenhouse gases are hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. These gases, commonly used as refrigerants, have largely replaced ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as a result of the Montreal Protocol’s ban on CFCs. However, HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases with heat-trapping potential hundreds of times more potent than carbon dioxide.

There is hope that the Montreal Protocol, which is the first UN environmental treaty to achieve universal ratification, can be amended to phase out HFCs, which are being increasingly used and may soon become a serious contributor to climate change. However, it appears that such measures will follow, rather than lead, international climate change negotiations.

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