Climate change: Global deal reached to limit powerful greenhouse gases

Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech to the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, in Kigali, Rwanda Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. The group of nations gathered in Kigali, are striving Friday for a deal to phase out hydrofluorocarbons from air conditioners and refrigerators as part of efforts to fight climate change. (AP Photo)

Nearly 200 nations have reached a deal to limit the use of greenhouse gases far more powerful than carbon dioxide in a major effort to fight climate change. The talks on hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, were called the first test of global will since the historic Paris Agreement to cut carbon emissions was reached last year. The agreement divides countries into three groups with different deadlines to reduce the use of factory-made HFC gases, according to Rwandan minister Vinncent Biruta. The developed nations, including most of Europe and the U.S., 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.

This is about much more than the ozone layer and HFCs. It is a clear statement by all world leaders that the green transformation started in Paris is irreversible and unstoppable.

Erik Solheim, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program

A small group of countries, including India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and some Gulf states negotiated a later start in 2028. 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".

Summarized by



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

Topic in-depth

Emerging Climate Accord Could Push A/C Out of Sweltering Indias Reach

A thrill goes down Lane 12, C Block, Kamalpur every time another working-class family brings home its first air-conditioner.
The New York Times


Organofluorine chemistry describes the chemistry of the organofluorines, organic compounds that contain the carbon–fluorine bond. Organofluorine compounds find diverse applications ranging from oil and water repellents to pharmaceuticals, refrigerants and reagents in catalysis.