Climate change: Deal to cut greenhouse gases announced by 150 countries

Secretary of State John Kerry, centre-right, shakes hands with India's Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Shri Anil Madhav Dave, center-left, at the start of a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, in Kigali, Rwanda Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. Many nations are meeting Friday for a deal to phase out hydrofluorocarbons from air conditioners and refrigerators as part of efforts to fight climate change. (AP Photo)

About 150 countries have agreed to a deal reducing greenhouse gases far more powerful than carbon dioxide in an effort to fight climate change. The agreement divides countries into three groups with different deadlines to reduce the use of factory-made hydrofluorocarbon gases, according to Rwandan minister Vinncent Biruta. The developed nations, including most of Europe and the US, will reduce their use of the gas by 10% before 2019, reaching 85% by 2036. More than 100 developing countries, including China, the world's worst polluter, will freeze their use of the gas by 2024.

Compromises had to be made, but 85% of developing countries have committed to the early schedule starting 2024, which is a very significant achievement.

Clare Perry, UK climate campaign leader with the Environmental Investigation Agency

A small group of countries, including India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and some Gulf states negotiated a later start in 2029. That date is two years earlier than India, the world's third-worst polluter, had initially suggested. These countries will then reduce their use gradually. Environmental groups say they hope the deal can cut global warming by a half-degree celsius by the end of this century. Durwood Zaelke, president of Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, said the agreement gets about 90% of the way there, with a statement from his group describing it as the "largest temperature reduction ever achieved by a single agreement".

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More powerful

HFCs are used in air conditioners and fridges and are the world's fastest-growing climate pollutant. They can be 10,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gas

A greenhouse gas(abbrev. GHG) is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect.

Organofluorine chemistry

Hydrofluorocarbons, organic compounds that contain fluorine and hydrogen atoms, are the most common type of organofluorine compounds. Used as refrigerants in place of the older chlorofluorocarbons such as R-12 and hydrochlorofluorocarbons such as R-21, they do not harm the ozone layer as much as the compounds they replace.

Topic in-depth

Climate change: 'Monumental' deal to cut HFCs, fastest growing greenhouse gases

Countries meeting in Rwanda have agreed a "monumental" deal to phase out gases that are worsening global warming.
BBC News