Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Something important happened in climate control last week.

Before the Wednesday night debate unleashes another round of awful, a few things have been happening in the world.   Here's one.

Last week, a new international agreement on climate-change change was completed that may be even more significant than the Paris agreement on carbon dioxide emissions that was recently ratified by the required number of nations.  Representatives from more than 170 nations, meeting in Rwanda, negotiated a legally binding agreement to cut the worldwide use of one of the worst planet-warming chemicals, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are used in air conditioners and refrigerators.

Secretary of State John Kerry called it "the biggest thing we could do in one giant swoop" to limit the warming of our planet. . . .  "a monumental step forward."  Reducing the single-target chemical HFC, which has 1000 times the heat trapping potency of carbon dioxide, is far easier than reducing the ubiquitous carbon emissions. Fortunately, it's not either/or.   We will be doing both.

Scientists estimate that reducing HFC alone will stave off an atmospheric temperature rise of 1 degree, a significant portion of the 3.6 degree rise that's considered the tipping point of no return.

This agreement is also a step forward in cooperation between nations, with wealthier nations helping poorer nations with the transition and with financing.  It also specifies timetables and sanctions for nations that do not comply, whereas the Paris agreement is voluntary.   In several ways, this represents a more serious commitment from the international community to actually achieve results -- and a model for the future.    Paris was a major advance;   this one seems a step beyond that.

I'm constantly amazed that the Obama administration just pushed ahead despite so many Luddites in congress who still deny that human activity is contributing to warming.  Fortunately they were distracted by all the Trump shenanigans and didn't interfere.   


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