By: PR Newswire

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA): In a major win for the climate, the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), the world’s leading voluntary greenhouse gas program, has announcedthat it will no longer approve or accept for consideration new methodologies and projects relating to HFC-23, acknowledging progress under the Montreal Protocol, G-20 and other bilateral government discussions on the international regulation of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

HFC-23, a by-product in the production of a chemical (HCFC-22) primarily used in air conditioning and refrigeration, is 14,800 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide (CO2). Best available technologies and maintenance practices allow 99.99 percent of HFC-23 to be destroyed at very low cost and as a result, companies in most countries destroy HFC-23 as a cost of doing business.  EIA’s on-the-ground investigations have exposed how the sale of HFC-23 credits had become a multi-billion dollar business while atmospheric concentrations of the gas have increased significantly. EIA also worked with CDM Watch and NOE 21, two European NGOs, to disclose that the producing companies were manipulating the production and destruction of HFC-23, generating more HFC-23 solely to destroy it, to maximize profits.  As a result, the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme and other mandatory carbon markets have already banned the trade of HFC-23 credits; while voluntary markets have remained a potential venue for the continued sale of HFC-23 destruction credits.

“The voluntary carbon markets are used by individuals and companies to green their footprint but HFC-23 credits are actually disastrous for the climate,” said Mark W. Roberts, International Policy Advisor at EIA, Washington D.C. “EIA lauds VCS for rejecting a methodology which would have let chemical companies continue to profit from destroying HFC-23 as well as for their decision to no longer consider new methodologies and projects relating to this gas.”

“Any system which provides financial rewards for the destruction of this potent climate-damaging gas threatens to undermine the goals of the Montreal Protocol and the protection of the Ozone layer,” said Avipsa Mahapatra, International Climate Policy Analyst at EIA. “The prospect of marketing highly lucrative HFC-23 credits has undermined multilateral action for years.”

“We strongly urge all countries with HCFC-22 facilities to mandate destruction of HFC-23 emissions as a simple cost of doing business,” said Natasha Hurley, Global Environment Campaigner at EIA in London. “HFC-23 abatement should be subject to regulation, not left up to the market. HFC-23 credits have already cost billions and subsidized chemical producers to pump millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Their day is done.”

Strong support for global action to phase down all HFCs, including HFC-23, under the Montreal Protocol was expressed at the recent climate talks in Warsaw. The international regulation of HFCs will be taken up again at a series of major international conferences scheduled to take place throughout 2014.

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