The terrible way that the human race has abused its planet is abundantly clear. Global warming, endemic pollution and a destructive reliance on unsustainable energy are only a few indications of a much wider danger that casual abuse can continue to the long-term destruction of the planet’s biosphere. Therefore it is heartening when we find examples of the global community taking action to stop the crisis.
The Montreal Protocol is an international treaty that has successfully eliminated more than 100 fluorinated gases that are particularly bad at wrecking the ozone layer in the atmosphere.
Therefore it is all the more encouraging that 197 nations have agreed to cut back on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under a process agreed in Dubai last year, with the UAE government hosting a meeting of the signatories to the Montreal Protocol. The Dubai Pathway on HFCs required all states to reduce the use of HFCs as coolants in fridges and freezers, with their eventual complete replacement by 2040.
It is significant that the deal includes the world’s two biggest economies, the US and China, as both countries have a poor record of signing up for such international treaties.
Their participation means that the Dubai Pathway will become much more effective as time goes on. In addition, the pathway lays out a series of two deadlines, designed to keep everyone moving in the same direction even if their economies are not able to move at the same speed to the complete elimination of HFCs.
The existence of both fast and slow tracks will allow everyone to work in good faith and not sink the agreement with accusations of bad faith.