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The UK has become one of the first nations to ratify a landmark amendment to the Montreal Protocol on reducing emissions of hydrofluorocarbon greenhouse gases (HFCs), mostly found in refrigeration systems and air-conditioning.

The Kigali Amendment aims to reduce emissions of HFCs by 85% between 2019 and 2036 to help to control global warming and keep the average temperature increase less than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Although HFCs do not deplete the ozone layer, their potential to cause global warming if released into the atmosphere is thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide.

The successful implementation of the Montreal Protocol, which helped to reduce emissions of substances that deplete the ozone layer by phasing out 98% of them, pushed for further action to implement a similar strategy to tackle global warming. This is now starting to be internationally implemented through the Kigali Amendment.

“Adopting this ambitious target marks the UK as a world leader in tackling climate change,” said UK environment secretary Michael Gove. “This deal will reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of around 70 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050 – the same as more than 600 coal-fired power stations would produce during that time.

“The UK, along with the rest of the EU, has already begun to phase down HFCs by 79% between 2015 and 2030. The Montreal Protocol will result in an additional UK reduction equivalent to around 44 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.”