NZ one of 197 countries committing to greenhouse gas reduction

  • 16/10/2016

New Zealand will be one of nearly 200 countries cutting back on potent greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners over the next 20 years.

Under the legally binding amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, signed in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, developed nations will commit to reducing their use of factory-made hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases incrementally, reaching 85 percent by 2036.

HFCs can be 10,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as greenhouse gases.

Environment Minister Nick Smith says his ministry will now work closely with industry to implement the 20-year phase down.

The first step will happen in 2019, with a reduction of 10 percent compared to 2011-2013 levels.

Dr Smith praised the 197-nation Kigali amendment, seven years in the making, as an historic achievement and said New Zealand had advocated for ambitious change.

"The resulting amendment will have significant environmental benefits by phasing down hydrofluorocarbons," he said.

Phasing down HFCs could potentially knock 0.5C off global warming, a significant step towards the Paris agreement's target of keeping this century's rise below 2C.

Under the Kigali amendment two groups of developing countries will freeze their use of the gases by either 2024 or 2028, and then gradually reduce their use. India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and the Gulf countries will meet the later deadline.

They refused the earlier date because they have fast-expanding middle classes who want air conditioning in their hot climates, and because India feared damaging its growing industries.