WASHINGTON (October 15, 2016)—Today in Kigali, Rwanda, the 197 parties to the Montreal Protocol agreed to an amendment to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), one of the fastest growing and most potent greenhouse gases, used primarily in cooling and refrigeration. The deal creates three categories of countries, with different schedules and timetables for reductions, and with the vast majority of countries freezing production and consumption by 2024. Altogether, the new amendment will reduce global levels of HFCs between 80 and 85 percent by 2047. The Montreal Protocol was originally created to reduce and eliminate ozone depleting substances, and has been hailed as the “single most effective international agreement” of any kind by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Following is a statement from Andrew Light, Distinguished Senior Fellow, WRI and former Senior Climate Change Adviser in the U.S. Department of State:

“The amendment to the Montreal Protocol is the single most important measure the global community could take to limit global warming in the short-term. Because HFCs are thousands of times more potent as a warming agent than carbon dioxide, a successful phase-down can avoid up to a half a degree Celsius of global warming by the end of this century.

“Achieving this historic agreement was hard fought over nearly a decade of leader-level negotiations, and a result of thousands of contributions from businesses, non-governmental organizations, and faith communities. Over time an astonishing array of countries — from the largest developed and emerging economies to the most poor and vulnerable states — united to take this bold step to tackle the common threat of climate change.

“Over the last year the global march to tackle climate change has been unwavering. The Paris Agreement, the ICAO Agreement and the Montreal Protocol amendment are three pillars that underpin a global transformation to a far safer and more prosperous planet."