Cutting Climate Pollution in the Montreal Protocol is a Proven Strategy to Reduce Risk

Cutting Climate Pollution in the Montreal Protocol is a Proven Strategy to Reduce Risk

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Washington, DC – National security and military experts welcome the historic global agreement to reduce super-polluting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in the Montreal Protocol. The global phasedown of HFCs will avoid significant warming by the end of the century. Additional energy savings from a transition from HFCs with efficient technologies will avoid up to half a degree of warming.


The military and national security community agrees: climate change-induced stresses on water, food, and energy increase the likelihood of conflict, mass migration, and government instability; this threatens the U.S. homeland, changes the oceans and shorelines, places strains on financial security, negatively impacts U.S. military readiness, and increases the need for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.


“Phasing down HFCs is one of the most impactful things United States can do to mitigate the security risks posed by climate change,” said Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret), CEO of the American Security Project. “Reducing these fast-acting, potent warmers is one of the few interventions that would almost immediately slow the rate of warming.”


“Since the 1990s, the US military has been a leader in developing climate friendly alternative to the ozone depleting HFCs governed by the Montreal Protocol.” said Sherri Goodman, Public Policy Fellow Wilson Center, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Environmental Security. “By leading on technology that meets military mission requirements, DOD has improved mission performance and reduced waste. DOD leadership enabled a generation of technology advances that have benefited both military missions and civilian industry needs.  In this “Age of Climate Consequences,”  DOD will again benefit from reducing carbon pollution and improving operational efficiency with alternatives to the current generation of HFCs.” 


“The U.S. military is already working with industry to test safe, cost-effective, low global warming alternatives to HFCs.” said Tom Morehouse, former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, Operational Energy Plans and Programs. “This global agreement provides the certainty DOD needs to plan its transition to alternatives. This is not a new challenge for the military, which was a major source of innovation behind the success in curbing ODS. It’s part of the military culture to manage long-term threats, instead of waiting for their impacts.”


The Montreal Protocol is a proven strategy to reduce risk.

The U.S. Department of Defense led the successful phase-out of ozone depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Pentagon’s switch from chemicals that cause the destruction of the ozone layer set the standard for American’s allies and the manufacturing of consumer and industrial electronic equipment. Now, the same body can achieve the most significant, cost-effective and feasible measure to tackle climate change.


Demand for cooling is set to overtake demand for heating by midcentury. Without action, this increasing energy demand will undercut efforts to mitigate climate risk and avoid dangerous heat waves. Fortunately, the Montreal Protocol has catalyzed energy efficiency improvements in appliances.”


Andrew Holland, Senior Fellow for Energy and Climate at the American Security Project said: “Higher efficiency air conditioners will lessen energy demand in places where access to air conditioning is a human security issue. India, for example, is already experiencing deadly, unprecedented heat waves. Simply telling them they cannot access cooling technologies is not an equitable option. We need to utilize new technology to help their population access clean, affordable cooling. This agreement will help reduce the increasing likelihood and severity of climate risks and lessen the need for humanitarian relief, slow urban unrest, and even quell the threats of conflict.”


The National Intelligence Council recently released report affirms the growing national security consensus that climate change is a “strategically-significant risk” to the United States. The newly issued Presidential Memorandum on Climate Change and National Security directs the U.S. government to “ensure that climate change-related impacts are fully considered in the development of national security doctrine, policies, and plans.”


For background on the Department of Defense commitments to use low global warming HFC alternatives, see the White House Fact Sheet, October 2015 and the Federal Acquisition Regulation, May 2016.


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