International Montreal Protocol Treaty Has Benefited Ozone Layer and Climate, But More Needs to be Done, Company Says
As nations prepare to gather in Montreal, Canada, the week of Sept. 17 to discuss adjustments to the international Montreal Protocol treaty, DuPont today reinforced the need to accelerate the phaseout of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). The company also urged governments and industry to take actions to minimize emissions of refrigerants and adopt non-ozone-depleting and lower global warming potential (GWP) alternatives, where possible.
HCFCs are significantly less ozone depleting than chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the original products they were designed to replace. But they also are greenhouse gases. HCFCs are used primarily in refrigeration and air conditioning applications, which DuPont estimates account for more than 75 percent of the use of these compounds globally.
According to DuPont, in the United States alone there are approximately 6 million display cases for food preservation in supermarkets, restaurants and convenience stores, among others, and more than 100,000 chiller and 1.6 million rooftop building air conditioning systems. In addition, of the approximately 110 million households in the United States, almost 60 million have central air conditioning. Many of those systems still use HCFCs. DuPont(TM) Suva(R) and ISCEON(R) alternative refrigerants have been used to retrofit existing systems and for new equipment.
“The Montreal Protocol has been responsible for a significant improvement in the ozone layer, and because CFCs also were very potent greenhouse gases, their phaseout provided the added benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Linda J. Fisher, DuPont vice president and chief sustainability officer, said. “We have learned many valuable lessons from the structure and implementation of the Montreal Protocol that could be applied as we develop legislation to curb greenhouse gases. DuPont has called for U.S. and global action to reduce greenhouse gases as a founding member of USCAP1, and we continue to take a strong company position on the need for a global regulatory program.”
Dr. Mario J. Molina, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the ozone depletion theory, added, "The leadership of DuPont in phasing out CFCs stimulated unprecedented cooperation among other companies and led in the development of technologies that significantly reduced environmental impact while meeting critical societal needs. Most importantly, DuPont supported policy actions that led to the development and implementation of the Montreal Protocol. The Protocol established a crucial precedent by showing that global environmental problems could be solved if there were global cooperation among governments, industry, the scientific community and environmental organizations." Dr. Molina shared the Nobel Prize with Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland and Dr. Paul J. Crutzen.
“We believe that more needs to be done to protect our ozone layer as well as our climate,” added Fisher. “Additional actions need to be taken globally by governments and industry to rapidly phase out HCFCs, and DuPont will continue to play a leadership role in working with all stakeholders.”
The swift adoption of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) alternatives – in a seamless industry transition during the 1990s – combined with not-in-kind technologies and conservation measures, has contributed to protection of both the ozone layer and the global climate. According to an article published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science earlier this year ("The Importance of the Montreal Protocol in Protecting Climate” by Guus J.M. Velders, Stephen O. Andersen, John S. Daniel, David W. Fahey and Mack McFarland, DuPont chief atmospheric scientist), the Montreal Protocol has had a significant impact in reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that otherwise would have been emitted to the atmosphere.
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed in September 1987. It restricts the use of ozone-depleting substances, including CFCs and HCFCs. After two decades, the treaty has led to substantial reductions in the emissions of ozone depleting substances. Research indicates that the ozone layer is now recovering.
DuPont led the industry in the phaseout of CFCs and transition to environmentally acceptable alternatives. At the time, DuPont estimated that more than $135 billion of existing equipment in the United States alone depended on CFCs. In January 1991, DuPont was the first company to launch a family of refrigerant alternatives that met performance, safety and environmental criteria and could be used in existing as well as new equipment, thus minimizing the transition cost to thousands of businesses and consumers around the world. The company invested more than $500 million to develop and commercialize CFC alternatives. CFCs accounted for less than 2 percent of the company’s revenues.
DuPont has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 70 percent since 1991, with $3 billion in avoided energy costs. Those energy savings are based on the use of improved process controls; optimization of energy generation and distribution at its facilities; new technologies with lower energy consumption, and; one of the biggest factors – improved yields from the manufacturing processes of DuPont. The Company also is reducing the use of fossil fuels by employing alternative energy sources such as landfill gas and photovoltaic solar energy.
DuPont – one of the first companies to publicly establish environmental goals 16 years ago – has broadened its sustainability commitments beyond internal footprint reduction to include market-driven targets for both revenue and research and development investment like low GWP fluorochemicals. The goals are tied directly to business growth, specifically to the development of safer and environmentally improved new products for key global markets, including products for its customers, such as low GWP fluorochemicals that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
DuPont is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 70 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture and food; building and construction; communications; and transportation.
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