Tuesday, October 26, 2021

US brings forward tough global greenhouse gas limits

Image copyright Reuters Image caption In 2016 scientists linked the primary ingredient of synthetic HFCs to a global warming contribution equalling a 12-fold increase in Earth’s surface temperature, compared to other types of greenhouse gases

Scientists will press ahead with tough new limits on greenhouse gases produced by nearly half the world’s power plants and buildings.

The US Environmental Protection Agency will publish a proposed rule on Thursday that sets maximum limits on emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.

The regulations will reduce global warming emissions by around nine billion tonnes of carbon dioxide over 20 years, according to the EPA.

The meeting in Washington is part of a framework agreed by the United Nations last year.

The UN has linked the main ingredient of synthetic HFCs to a global warming contribution equalling a 12-fold increase in Earth’s surface temperature, compared to other types of greenhouse gases.

It will take a long time for the regulation to be implemented, however.

The deal with the World Trade Organisation is a first of its kind. It only affects trade between countries, not within or across continents.

The proposal would also require full compliance with the rules by 2020, but not with local, national or regional plans.

Repsol, which co-authored an EPA report, told BBC News the proposal would deliver “a dramatic reduction in HFC use”, through a blend of direct and indirect emissions reductions.

The Argentine oil and gas company expects long-term financial benefits of between $4.5bn and $9.7bn for repositioning its product away from HFCs.

Other companies have concerns about how the new regulations might affect companies already operating in certain locations, but the EPA said its regulations would be temporary.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The EPA says more than half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from energy

The EPA says it will work with “co-partners” to identify ways to minimise the emissions from HFCs produced in regulated facilities in addition to building new capacity.

“We call on all eligible industries to play their part and help ensure these regulations enter into force as quickly as possible,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said.

“We will work closely with industry and international partners to find permanent solutions.”

The University of Notre Dame’s Klaus Lackner said the proposals, drafted by the University of Michigan, “will help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by just over 9 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by mid-century”.

“This will be equivalent to two billion tonnes a year more than our current annual emissions by 2040,” he said.

Jonathan Grant, of the consultancy PwC, said it was “a step in the right direction for limiting global emissions”.

“But it will be a slow, complex process,” he said.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Scientists have linked the primary ingredient of synthetic HFCs to a global warming contribution equalling a 12-fold increase in Earth’s surface temperature

– BBC

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