WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said on Thursday several nations took a step toward an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that will substantially reduce greenhouse gases by cutting back on production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
Secretary of State John Kerry also praised the action as a major accomplishment that shows "that the world is ready for a new chapter in the fight against climate change."
McCarthy, in Dubai for a meeting of the Montreal Protocol nations, said in a statement the agreement to seek an amendment to the protocol to cut back on HFCs could avoid a warming of 0.5 degree Celsius (0.9 degree Fahrenheit) by 2100.
"Reaching agreement on this decision by the parties will pave the way to help all countries transition to alternatives and away from HFCs," she said.
HFCs, used primarily in air conditioning, refrigeration and foam insulation, came into use as a replacement for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) when they were found to deplete the ozone layer. HFCs have since been determined to feed global warming by trapping up to 23,000 times more heat than carbon dioxide.
McCarthy said the progress made on HFCs in Dubai should give momentum to UN climate change talks that start in Paris on Nov. 30 with more than 190 countries. The meeting will focus on a global deal to curb global warming, which scientists say needs to be limited to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to avoid the most devastating consequences in the form of droughts and rising sea levels.
Last month the Obama administration announced a set of executive actions and commitments by more than a dozen companies to curb the use HFCs.
(Reporting by Bill Trott and Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Eric Walsh)