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Treaty aims to protect ozone

September 23, 2007|From the Associated Press

TORONTO — Governments of almost 200 countries have agreed to speed the elimination of a major greenhouse gas that depletes ozone, U.N. and Canadian officials said Saturday, describing a deal they said was a significant step toward fighting global warming.

The agreement will accelerate the timetable of a treaty to freeze and phase out hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are used in some refrigerators and other home appliances, hair sprays and air conditioners, said Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the United Nations Environment Program.

"With this plan of an accelerated freeze and accelerated phase-out, we could have potentially significant benefits arising in terms of combating climate change and ozone loss," Nuttall said. "It's a remarkable change in how we view the issue of climate change."

The treaty, known as the Montreal Protocol, was originally established in that city in 1987 to protect the ozone layer from destructive chemicals. It was negotiated by 191 countries to cut back on chemicals blamed for destroying the ozone layer.

The member nations, gathering again in Montreal 20 years later, agreed to freeze production and consumption of HCFCs in 2013.

Developed countries have agreed to reduce production and consumption by 75% by 2010 and by 90% by 2015, with final phase-out in 2020, 10 years sooner than the earlier agreement. Developing countries have agreed to cut production and consumption by 10% in 2015, by 35% by 2020 and by 67.5% by 2025, with a final phase-out in 2030.

In Washington, the White House said the agreement would cut in half the potential emissions of remaining chemicals harmful to the ozone.

"This action will not only speed up recovery of the ozone layer, but also represents one of the most significant new global actions to confront climate change by reducing the greenhouse gas profile of the phased-out substances," a White House statement said.

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