Singapore among nearly 200 nations in landmark deal to cut use of HFC greenhouse gases

SINGAPORE - The Republic joined nearly 200 nations in a landmark agreement to phase down the use of greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) , widely used in refrigerators, air-conditioners and industrial applications.

HFCs are used as replacements to ozone-depleting substances.

The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources said on Saturday (Oct 15) that "while their use is beneficial for the ozone layer, they inadvertently contribute to global warming".

The major step, which could combat climate change, was taken at the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (MOP-28). MOP-28 was held in Kigali, Rwanda from Monday to Friday (Oct 10 to 14).

HFCs trap heat in the atmosphere better than carbon dioxide, leading to calls for an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down their use.

MOP-28 agreed on 2019 as the "freeze date" on HFCs for developed countries and 2024 for developing countries.

For developed countries, this will be followed by gradual phase down steps until 15 per cent by 2036, with 2013 as the base year. For developing countries, this will be 20 per cent by 2045, with 2022 as the base year.

Singapore is classified as a developing country under the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty aimed at stopping the depletion of the ozone layer.

In a national statement during the meeting, Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, encouraged countries to work together to resolve the challenges in phasing down the use of HFCs.

She pointed out that a possible solution is to review and develop alternative technologies to HFCs that will be technically and economically viable, as well as suited to the various circumstances of countries.

Dr Khor also said Singapore is working towards phasing down the use of HFCs, taking into consideration the availability of substitutes and alternative technologies.