At the Mercy of Mother Nature (and of Policies of Larger Nations)

The Vienna Convention for Protection of the Ozone Layer this month celebrates 30 years of environmental protection, including the establishment of the Montreal Protocol, which has successfully phased down hundreds of chemicals harmful to the ozone layer and to global climate. The one remaining challenge, the management of the powerful greenhouse gases called HFCs, is finally being negotiated after several years of calls for action by the Federated States of Micronesia and fellow island nations.

Phasing down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol is essential to global climate-change mitigation this century and would enhance international sustainable-development efforts. By preventing projected growth of HFC consumption and production, up to 0.5°C of warming can be avoided by 2100.

In addition, an HFC phase down would catalyze energy-efficiency improvements in the refrigeration and air-conditioning sector, which is a cornerstone of sustainable development in other sectors, such as fisheries, hotels and restaurants and residential housing.

The 197 parties to the Montreal Protocol will meet in early November in Dubai, where they will finalize the mandate for negotiations related to HFCs. With this agreement, the first concrete step will be taken toward virtual elimination of a major greenhouse gas. This will also create positive momentum for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris in December.

As a small island State, Micronesia is vulnerable to sea-level rise and to storm surges. In fact, our most populous islands were severely impacted by a Category 5 super typhoon this spring. Our geography puts us at the mercy of Mother Nature in some respects but, more and more, we are also at the mercy of the climate-change policies of larger, more industrialized nations.

We therefore call on all of the nations of the world (a) to use all tools —> Read More