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Philanthropic Group Launches World's Largest Energy Efficiency Investment

Durwood Zaelke's picture
Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

Durwood Zaelke is founder and President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development in Washington, DC and Geneva, where he focuses on reducing air pollution and other...

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Fast-start fund to improving energy efficiency during Montreal Protocol HFC phasedown.

Will save developing nations billions of dollars and avoid billions of tons of emissions.

Bill Gates and other philanthropic foundations recently announced fast-start funding to maximize energy efficiency in parallel with an ambitious HFC amendment under the Montreal Protocol.

“This $80 million fast-start fund not only is a great boost to achieving success in Kigali, but it also ensures that the Parties can double the climate prize by capturing the parallel energy efficiency benefits.”  said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “The fast-start fund is key to protecting the low-lying islands and other countries that are already suffering severe climate impacts.”

Argentina pledged support to the High Ambition Coalition this morning and China reiterated its pledge to to help in the final sprint to an ambitious and comprehensive amendment in Kigali.  Rwanda, the host of the meeting next month, also pledged its support to bring home the victory in Kigali.

With a combined $27 million from governments and $53 million from foundations the total investment is $80 million USD to support developing nations (Article 5 countries) in implementing an ambitious HFC amendment and improving energy efficiency.

The announcement comes just weeks ahead of the October 9th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Kigali, Rwanda, where an HFC amendment is widely anticipated – although the level of ambition that some countries will bring to the negotiations is still unclear.

A fast HFC phasedown under the Montreal Protocol can avoid 100 billion tons of CO2-equivalent by 2050 and avoid 0.5C warming by 2100.  Improving energy efficiency in parallel with an HFC phasedown could approach 80 to 100 billion tones avoided from appliance efficiency alone, nearly doubling the climate benefits of a phase down alone.  Previous phase outs over similar substances under the Montreal Protocol have catalyzed energy efficiency improvements to appliances using the refrigerants in the range of 30 to 60%.

HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons, are super greenhouse gases used in refrigerants and air conditioning that can be up to 4,000 times more potent than CO2. In a warming world, the use of air conditioning is projected to grow to 2.5 billion air conditioners by 2050.  Improving energy efficiency of appliances is a win-win, reducing emissions and producing energy savings can be spread to those without.

The Africa Group, who has strongly advocated for an ambitious amendment during the negotiations, praised the funding initiative:

“From an African perspective, the HFC phase down represents a chance for us to fight climate change while ensuring our sustainable development. The Parties have already agreed to a generous financing package that will ensure that developing countries get the assistance they need to continue on the path of sustainable development while phasing down HFCs and promoting energy efficiency Now we need an ambitious phase down schedule that ensures we maximize the available climate benefits.” Burkina Faso Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, Sadou Maiga.

“For African States, it is imperative that we seize every opportunity to combat climate change. One of the biggest and most affordable opportunities to do that is by aggressively phasing down HFCs. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity.” – Mali Minister of Environment, Keita Aida M’Bo.

“The Parties have outlined a financial package that provides generous support for developing countries to phase down HFCs while promoting energy efficiency. The only piece missing is an ambitious HFC phase down schedule in all Parties. If we can agree to that, future generations will not look back and say we missed this opportunity.” – Advisor to the Prime Minister of Senegal and negotiator of the African Group to the Montreal Protocol, Ndiaye Cheikh Sylla.

IGSD’s HFC Primer is here.

The White House press release is here.

Photo Credit: Intel Free Press via Flickr

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