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Climate change: US announces new greenhouse gas commitments

Washington: Citing talks with India, China and Brazil to reduce the use and emissions of greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the White House announced a suite of new private-sector commitments and executive actions related to climate change.

Announcing the new commitments ahead of the Nov 1-5 Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Dubai, the White House said Thursday, “President Obama believes that no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”

“His Administration is committed to taking responsible steps to ensure that we leave our children a planet that is not polluted or damaged,” it said.

The White House Thursday also recognized the robust progress that has been made against the private-sector commitments and executive actions that were announced in Sep 2014 to address HFCs.

The US has been working to negotiate an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs globally, it said.

“Our bilateral announcements with China, India, Brazil, and others recognize the need to advance progress on managing HFCs through the Montreal Protocol,” the White House said.

“With strong international action on HFCs, up to 0.5°C of warming could be avoided by the end of the century, substantially furthering our goal to limit global temperature rise,” it said.

The Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy made commitments in Sep 2014 to take actions to support a Montreal Protocol amendment to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs and also to take actions and support policies with a goal to reduce the global HFC greenhouse gas contribution by 80 percent by 2050.

In the past year, the Alliance has taken numerous actions in support of these commitments, the White House said. For example, it participated in the India-US HFC Task Force and other bilateral diplomatic efforts, including that with China.

Meanwhile, in an address at the Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies, in Bloomington, Indiana, Secretary of State John Kerry cited the US-China announcement last November regarding their respective greenhouse gas emissions targets.

“It was a dramatic moment of transformation, where China and the United States joined together, and it took away the excuse from less-developed countries,” Kerry said.

“And the symbolic breakthrough of this coordination was bigger than many of us maybe even anticipated,” he added.

“Since then, every major economy in the world and 150 nations have come forward with their own set of targets or, in the case of India, unveiled a plan to make massive new investments in alternative energy,” Kerry said.

“In just two months, representatives from around the world will gather in Paris to approve what I hope will be by far the most ambitious agreement on global climate ever reached.” he said. “And hopefully, it will send a signal to the marketplace.”

(Arun Kumar, IANS)

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