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UK ratifies new agreement to tackle global warming

The UK has become one of the first nations to complete ratification of a landmark agreement to reduce emissions from appliances that play a major role in global warming


The UK has today become one of the first nations to ratify a landmark agreement that will play a major role in preventing global warming by reducing emissions from appliances such as air conditioning units and refrigerators.

The Kigali amendment to the UN Montreal Protocol commits nations to reducing hydrofluorocarbon greenhouse gases (HFCs) by 85% between 2019 and 2036.

These harmful greenhouse gases could have risen by up to 11% by 2050 and the United Kingdom is one of the first countries to approve the landmark UN agreement to help prevent that from happening.

UK scientists played a key role in discovering the hole in the ozone layer and it was the Conservative Government in the 1980s which pushed hard for international action to protect it. The Montreal Protocol is already one of the most successful treaties ever agreed, having phased out 98% of ozone depleting substances – including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons. As a result, the ozone layer is showing the first signs of recovery.

The Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which the UK has completed ratifying, goes even further and extends targets to HFCs. Although HFCs do not harm the ozone layer, they have a global warming potential thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide.

Consequently this deal is likely to avoid close to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of this century, making it the most significant step yet in achieving the Paris climate agreement goal of keeping temperatures well below two degrees.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

Adopting this ambitious target marks the UK as a world leader in tackling climate change. 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

Notes to editors:

  • As part of global efforts to tackle climate change, countries agreed at the Montreal Protocol meeting in Kigali, Rwanda in October 2016 to phase down the production and use of HFCs. Developed countries agreed to an 85% phase-down between 2019 and 2036; most developing countries agreed to 80% between 2024 and 2045; and ten developing countries (India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, The United Arab Emirates, Iran and Iraq) agreed to 85% between 2028 and 2047.
  • For further information please contact Defra press office on 020 8225 7510 or out of hours on 0345 051 8486.
Published 14 November 2017