Australia has cemented itself as a global leader playing a key role in securing international agreement to reduce hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) emissions by 85 per cent at the Montreal Protocol Meeting held in Kigali, Rwanda.

HFCs are powerful synthetic greenhouse gases widely used in refrigerators, air conditioners, fire extinguishers and insulating foam. They are the main gases used in more than 45 million pieces of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment and contribute up to 2 per cent of Australia’s carbon equivalent emissions.

The reduction in emissions will be achieved through a gradually declining cap on imports and is estimated to achieve up to 72 billion tonnes in carbon dioxide equivalent emission savings by 2050. This is roughly one and a third times global annual emissions.

This will not only benefit the environment but provide long-term investment certainty to industry, allowing a gradual and low cost transition to alternative gases and equipment.

An ambitious global reduction in HFC use complements the Turnbull Coalition Government’s decision in May this year to implement a domestic cap on HFC imports from 2018 to meet its 2030 emission reduction targets.

Australia has played a leading role on this issue and was an instigator of the 2015 Dubai Pathway, a commitment to work to a HFC agreement in 2016, and helped to achieve this new agreement by co-chairing meetings and brokering negotiations throughout the year.

This is the most significant change to the Montreal Protocol, widely considered to be the world’s most successful environment protection agreement, since 1990.

The Montreal Protocol was established in 1987 to address the depletion of the ozone layer by harmful substances. This resulted in the eradication of 99 per cent of ozone depleting substances and prevented emissions equivalent to 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Australia was among the early countries to sign up to the Montreal Protocol and has often gone well beyond the protocol’s requirements.

It has almost completed its transition away from ozone depleting substances and used up to 60 per cent less than allowed of the most potent group of these.

All countries including Australia hope that a final agreement on the global HFC reduction will work as a positive marker for the Marrakech Climate Change Conference in November 2016.

The phase-down agreement will see Australia and other developed countries phase-down HFCs to 85 per cent of current consumption levels by 2036 with developing countries to achieve this reduction by 2045-47.

For more information about Australia’s HFC import reduction go to: http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/ozone/legislation/opsggm-review/hfc-phase-out-faqs

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