RANCHO MIRAGE, 8 June 2013 (AFP) – The United States and China agreed to mount a joint effort to combat climate change Saturday, committing to work to cut hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), or "super greenhouse" gases.
In a statement issued after a summit between Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping here, the two sides committed to phase down production and usage of the gases, which are highly potent contributors to climate change.
"Today, President Obama and President Xi agreed on an important new step to confront global climate change," the White House said in a statement.
The deal will see Washington and Beijing work together for the first time, along with other countries to phase down the consumption and production of HFCs," the statement said.
"A global phase down of HFCs could potentially reduce some 90 gigatons of CO2 equivalent by 2050, equal to roughly two years worth of current global greenhouse gas emissions," the statement said.
The effort will use the institutions of the Montreal Protocol, which is sometimes referred to as the most successful global climate treaty, which was first set up to tackle depletions in the ozone layer.
HFCs are potent greenhouse gases which used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and industrial appliances.
They are seen as a threat because their use could undercut other efforts to stem greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.
China has been unwilling to sign on to other international efforts to combat climate change, arguing that doing so could hamper its development, and that rich nations have a much more harmful global warming legacy.
The United States, Canada and Mexico are proposing an amendment to the Montreal Protocol which would phase down the production and consumption of HFCs in a verified manner.