In , the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was introduced, the first international policy effort to protect the ozone.
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This treaty called for the phaseout of ozone depleting compounds like chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons HCFCs. This proved to be a major success for the restoration for the ozone layer, which is expected to return to coverage around The use of hydrofluorocarbons in place of chlorine-containing compounds, however, also has negative global consequences. The HFC compounds most commonly used in air conditioning systems, such as RA and RC, are over a thousand times more potent than carbon dioxide, establishing them as a significant climate concern.
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The graph below shows the substantial rise in HFC consumption since the introduction of the Montreal Protocol. Reducing our dependency on HFCs could be a great opportunity to combat climate change, and indeed a later change to the Montreal Protocol would make this a priority.
Introduced in October , The Kigali Amendment was the first modification to the Montreal Protocol now ratified by countries to monitor substances that did not contribute to ozone depletion. The phase down is split into two major groups and has the potential to avoid up to 0.
A graph of the phasedown schedule can be seen below. The Kigali Amendment is set to go into force on January 1, With over 20 countries that have ratified the agreement and some efforts already taking effect, much support is still needed in order to have a lasting impact. Efforts like the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program K-CEP , a philanthropic program that supports the implementation of the Kigali Amendment, can help provide tools and research to help countries shift away from HFCs and find new cooling solutions.
Some of the warmest countries, especially those with burgeoning economies, are expected to become much heavier air conditioning users over the next few decades. Countries with high air conditioning use, like China and the Unites States, already have a huge footprint in space cooling energy use and HFC leakage. Efficient air conditioning units can certainly help lighten the burden of increased electric power needs, but there is a great range in equipment energy use available on the market.
Coordinated global efforts, both in policy and technology, would be required in order to make energy efficient units a reliable solution. Supporting global efforts such as the Kigali Amendment will be essential to this goal. Smaller scale policy changes can be profoundly impactful as well. In the United States, for example, federal-level policy might be difficult to implement, but states such as California can help lead the country.
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Meanwhile there has been an increasing amount of attention paid to the massive climate risk posed by one mundane and increasingly ubiquitous household technology: the air conditioner. Despair is understandable, but not very helpful. Unlike renewable energy, whose cost has plunged in the past decade, energy efficiency had been assumed to cost more as the cheapest methods are exhausted.
But this widespread assumption is based on economic theory viewing efficiency as a dwindling resource , not engineering practice, which demonstrates that faster adoption and integrated solutions can rapidly drive down costs. These approaches make order-of-magnitude building efficiency improvements economically and financially viable - mainly by eliminating or shrinking heating, ventilation and air-conditioning HVAC equipment.
There are credible pathways to a solution that is four or five times more efficient, both by hybridizing existing technologies, and in the form of new systems being developed in labs and research centers - such as transferring heat between semiconductors, employing magnetic fields, and even ejecting heat into outer space.
The challenge, of course, is helping these technologies find a way to scale. The AC industry is dominated by a handful of large incumbent manufacturers that are simply responding to current regulatory and market signals. Consumers care about price, brand and looks more than anything else, and regulators fail to apply much pressure with regard to efficiency standards.
Climate change mitigation
Consequently, AC companies typically spend more on advertising and aesthetics than they do on research and development, and focus on churning out as many low-efficiency units as they can as cheaply as possible. We can, however, change this dynamic. Regulators around the world can raise minimum energy performance standards closer to those of best-in-class ACs, which are typically twice as efficient as the market norm an effort being driven by the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program. For example, red beds indicated aridity in regions that are now humid e.
Since the late 20th century the development of advanced technologies for dating rocks, together with geochemical techniques and other analytical tools, have revolutionized the understanding of early Earth system history.
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The occurrence of multiple epochs in recent Earth history during which continental glaciers , developed at high latitudes, penetrated into northern Europe and eastern North America was recognized by scientists by the late 19th century. Climate change. Article Media. Info Print Print. Table Of Contents.
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Written By: Stephen T. Alternative Titles: climate variation, climatic change, climatic fluctuation, climatic variation. Human action has triggered a vast cascade of environmental problems that now threaten the continued ability of both natural and human systems to flourish. Solving the critical environmental problems of global warming, water scarcity, pollution, and biodiversity loss are perhaps the greatest challenges of the 21st century.
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