Nairobi - A group of scientists is arguing that HFC (hydroflurocarbon) use could climb sharply in the coming years in products such as insulation foams, air conditioning units and refrigeration as replacements for ones being phased-out to protect the ozone layer, especially in developing regions.
And in a recent paper, they highlight the need to accelerate action over hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) as part of the climate change agenda. The international team of researchers, published their findings in the US Proceeedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Under a scenario where carbon dioxide emissions are pegged to 450 parts per million, HFCs could equal nine gigatonnes - equivalent to around 45 per cent of total C02 emissions - by 2050 if their growth is unchecked, this paper claims.
Conversely, rapid action to freeze and to cut emissions annually alongside fostering readily available alternatives could see HFC emissions fall to under one gigatonne by 2050.
This report was welcomed by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which highlighted the findings in a 22 June press statement.
Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary general and UNEP executive director, said in this statement: "Dramatically cutting carbon dioxide emissions from society's inefficient energy use is the key to catalysing a transition to a low, carbon, resource efficient Green Economy. It is also central to delivering a stabilization of the atmosphere as outlined by the assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."
"But there are other low hanging fruit in the climate change challenge and this new scientific paper spotlights one of them - HFCs. By some estimates, action to freeze and then reduce this group of gases could buy the world the equivalent of a decades-worth of C02 emissions," Steiner added.
The UNEP statement pointed out that, in 2008, governments requested the executive secretaries of the Montreal Protocol and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change - Marco Gonzalez and Yvo de Boer - to cooperate more closely including on the issue of HFCs, and said that cooperation is on-going.
The statement made no distinction between different HFC materials, which vary in their GWP (global warming potential) and did not discuss the use of specific HFCs in different sectors, or possible replacements for the materials.
See more at www.unep.org and at www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/06/19/0902817106