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Strasbourg plenary 12-15 Sept: economic crisis, Libya, energy

MEPs call for cuts in non-CO2 greenhouse emissions

Old fridges - dumped ©BELGA/SCIENCE   EP calls for comprehensive climate package ©BELGA/SCIENCE

Great efforts have been made to reduce CO2 emissions in Europe and internationally, but a number of other substances are also causing Arctic ice-melt and on Wednesday MEPs called for action against so-called non-CO2 emissions including the hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) used in refrigerators and black carbon.

The Parliament wants a comprehensive European climate policy covering all sources of global warming. "European policy on the mitigation of climate change should be complemented by reductions of non-CO2 gases," said Austrian Christian Demcorat Richard Seeber, one of the co-authors of the report. "This can be done in a cost-effective and timely manner with existing tools."

Co-author Greek Liberal Theodoros Skylakakis said reducing non-CO2 emissions would reduce the overall cost of fighting climate change. According to the two MEPs the public price of reducing some HFCs is 5-10 cents a tonne, compared with €13 a tonne for carbon.

The resolution approved by the EP urges the Commission to phase out production and consumption of HFCs and calls for immediate action on reducing black carbon emissions. Prioritising emissions that affect the Arctic, Greenland and the Himalayan-Tibetan glaciers is a fast-action method of halting glacial melting, it says.

Ahead of the vote, the co-authors put a question to the Commission on the issue Tuesday

Some non-CO2 emissions

HFCs increasingly used as an alternative to ozone-damaging CFCs in refrigeration. Although effective they can also be powerful greenhouse gases with long atmospheric lifetimes


Nitrogen oxides (NOx) come mainly from burning fossil fuels


Black carbon is formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, bio fuel, and biomass. Experts think it particularly affects Arctic ice, Himalayan glaciers

Further information