Singapore welcomes global deal to phase out super greenhouse gas

Channel NewsAsia 15 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE: The Republic joined about 170 countries to welcome a landmark agreement to phase down a category of dangerous greenhouse gases widely used in refrigerators and air conditioners.

In a press release on Saturday (Oct 15), the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) said the agreement to phase down the use of hydroflorocarbons (HFCs) was made at the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (MOP-28). The meeting was held from Oct 10 to 14 in Kigali, Rwanda.

HFCs are widely used in refrigerators, air-conditioners and industrial appliances as replacement to ozone-depleting substances, but while their use is beneficial for the ozone layer, they inadvertently contribute to global warming, said MEWR.

In her statement at the meeting, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Amy Khor encouraged countries to work together and resolve the challenges in phasing down the use of HFCs.

She pointed out that a possible solution is to review and develop alternative technologies to HFCs that will be technically and economically viable, as well as suited to the various circumstances of countries.

“Notwithstanding the challenges associated with the present issue of alternatives, Singapore’s market players have been monitoring the situation and are willing to introduce viable, low or non-GWP alternatives whenever possible or available,” she said. “While we uphold high public safety standards, our authorities also strive to accord flexibility to industries as they move towards developing more climate-friendly appliances.”

MOP-28 on Saturday adopted the amendment to include HFCs as a controlled substance and phase down the production and consumption of the greenhouse gas. A freeze date of 2019 and 2024 was agreed upon for developed and developing countries respectively, followed by gradual phase down steps until 15 per cent by 2036 - with 2013 as the base year – for developed countries and 20 per cent by 2045 – with 2022 as the baseline year – for developing countries.

Under the Montreal Protocol, Singapore is classified as a developing country.

“Given that many countries are still reliant on HFCs for domestic and industrial uses, and currently few technically feasible and economically viable alternatives are available, the Kigali Amendment provides for flexibility where appropriate,” said MEWR. “Even as the freeze date and phase down schedule have been agreed upon, work will continue on the implementation details and in addressing the challenges in the phasing down of HFCs.”

In Kigali, Dr Khor also met United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Erik Solheim and United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy.

- CNA/ek

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