It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ozone Treaty and Secondary GHG Protocols

Hey, I can be a lazy journalist too! I'm pasting a press release (minus contact info) here in case anybody finds it interesting.

Basically it seems to amount to good news on the non-CO2 emissions front. (Besides, it says "Montreal" several times, which is always a good thing.)
Ozone Treaty Parties Agree to Start Cutting More Climate Emissions

Doha, Qatar, 20 November 2008 – Today the 193 Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer—representing virtually all countries of the world—agreed for the second year in a row to strengthen their treaty to provide additional protection for both the ozone layer and the climate system.

The Parties will start collecting and destroying ozone-depleting substance from stockpiles and from discarded products and equipment that are the easiest to reach. These "reachable" substances will be emitted by 2015 without action through the Montreal Protocol. Destroying them will speed recovery of the ozone layer by up to two years, and avoid up to 6 billion tonnes or more of CO2-eq. in climate emissions. An additional 14 or more billion tonnes of CO2-eq. could be emitted later from these sources unless further action is taken.

Argentina first proposed destroying the stockpiles and "banks" of substances in discarded products and equipment. Micronesia and Mauritius also proposed collecting and destroying banks because this can provide fast climate mitigation and help avoid passing thresholds for abrupt climate changes, including the disintegration of the Greenland Ice Sheet, which would lead to many meters of sea level rise and threaten all low-lying island and coastal countries.

Romina Picolotti, Argentina's Minister of Environment, stated, "We recognize the importance of near term climate mitigation, as well as long term mitigation, and believe the 6 billion tonnes of CO2-eq. in banks that will otherwise be emitted by 2015 is a critical target we can address today." She praised the Montreal Protocol Parties for their "cooperative spirit and their ability to act fast" and stated that "the Montreal Protocol is a model for the world." (For comparison, Parties to the Kyoto climate treaty are trying to reduce their climate emissions by 1 billion tonnes per year below 1990 levels during the treaty's initial commitment period from 2008 to 2012.)

The developed country Parties to the Montreal Protocol also agreed to provide $490 million in additional funding over three years to assist developing country Parties meet their treaty obligations. This includes initial funding to immediately begin pilot projects for collection and destruction of the "reachable" banks. The Parties directed the treaty secretariat to explore co-financing, including the carbon markets.

The Parties also agreed to begin discussions on whether to move hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, from the climate treaty to the stricter Montreal Protocol, where HFCs with a high global warming potential could be phased-out. HFCs are substitutes for substances that are being phased-out by the Montreal Protocol, and are projected to grow at an alarming rate.

Moving HFCs to the Montreal Protocol could pave the way for moving the four other non-CO2 gases in the climate treaty to separate protocols, where they could be more strictly controlled. "Removing the five non-CO2 gases would still leave the climate treaty to do the lion's share of climate mitigation," said Durwood Zaelke, the President of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. Zaelke added that, "the advantage of 'disaggregating' the climate problem this way would be to allow separate governance structures that could strictly regulate each of the non-CO2 gases."

Antonio Oposa, representing Micronesia, stated, "This could provide faster climate mitigation in many cases, which is what the island countries need to survive." He added, "There is a clear and present danger of abrupt and catastrophic climate changes in the near future. In the face of these threats, we must act not only with a sense of urgency, but a sense of emergency."

The Montreal Protocol has successfully phased out more than 95 percent of 97 ozone-depleting substances since it began in 1987. Because many substances that deplete ozone also warm the climate, the Montreal Protocol has delayed climate change by up to 12 years through the mitigation of 135 billion tonnes of CO2-eq between 1990 and 2010. Last September, the Parties took their first step towards becoming a more explicit climate treaty, in a decision praised by Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, as "perhaps the most important breakthrough in an international environmental negotiation process for at least five or six years."

In July 2008, the 17 Major Economies recognized the need for urgent action under the Montreal Protocol for the benefit of the global climate system and committed to take such action. Today's decisions follow through on this commitment to climate protection.

Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development
INECE Secretariat
2300 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 300B
Washington, DC 20007


4 comments:

Alastair said...

Don't make the mistake that I often do and omit the smileys when you are not being serious.

"You can't be serious!" John McEnroe.

This excerpt seemed the most ridiculous to me -
- Antonio Oposa, representing Micronesia, stated, "This could provide faster climate mitigation in many cases, which is what the island countries need to survive." He added, "There is a clear and present danger of abrupt and catastrophic climate changes in the near future. In the face of these threats, we must act not only with a sense of urgency, but a sense of emergency."

The reason that we fear abrupt climate change is that it has happened in the past. CFC's destroy the ozone layer, but its destruction in the past has never cited as a cause of abrupt climate change.

If these politicians, with less knowledge about the science than George W. Bush, think they can save the world by banning aerosol cans then they have a rude awakening ahead.

Cheers, Alastair.

Michael Tobis said...

CFCs are greenhouse gases, of course.

Rich Puchalsky said...

Hi, Michael -- I am blogging now, and referenced your post here.

Michael Tobis said...

Hi Rich, welcome to the Sphere.

I wonder what ever happened to Alan McGowan. Any idea?