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How UC research led to a landmark global deal against superpollutants

On Oct. 15, more than 170 countries reached a historic agreement to cut the use of one of the world’s most potent greenhouse gases, marking a major milestone in efforts to keep the planet from catastrophic levels of global warming.

The international accord reached in Kigali, Rwanda, sets legally binding limits on the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a type of coolant widely used in air conditioners and refrigerators.

It is one of several climate superpollutants that have been the focus of more than 40 years of research by UC San Diego atmospheric scientist Veerabhadran “Ram” Ramanathan, whose work has shown the powerful impact of HFCs and other gases on global warming.

Ramanathan hailed the agreement Monday and said it was an important step in keeping global temperature increases to a minimum over the coming decades.

“There is a thick blanket of greenhouse gases around the earth, and we need to thin the blanket,” said Ramanathan. “Carbon dioxide will remain in the atmosphere for over a century, but HFCs, which have a global warming effect 1000 to 2000 times that of carbon dioxide are very short-lived, which is why we are focusing on them now.”

Read full article about the role UC research played in what Secretary of State John Kerry deems “likely the single most important step we could take at this moment to limit the warming of our planet and limit the warming for generations to come.”

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