SAO PAULO, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Verified Carbon Standards (VCS), the world's leading voluntary program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said its rules for carbon offset projects will no longer allow projects that destroy potent greenhouse gas HFC-23 to earn carbon credits, betting that international efforts to regulate the gases will be successful.
The refrigerant industry introduced HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons, to replace CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons, which were banned because they damaged the Ozone Layer that protects the Earth from excessive solar radiation.
Jerry Seager, chief program officer at the nonprofit VCS, said in a note late on Thursday that the U.N.'s Montreal Protocol is the appropriate mechanism for addressing HFC-23 emissions, despite the role that carbon markets have played relating to the chemical.
VCS said it could consider whether market incentives should be reconsidered in this area "should there be little progress towards direct international regulation of HFC emissions over the coming years."
Countries that are parties to the Montreal Protocol are trying to reach an agreement to drastically reduce the use of HFCs, heat-trapping gases that are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).
The United States and China announced a breakthrough agreement last year to sharply reduce the use of HFCs, a goal backed by the G-20, but countries came short of a more comprehensive agreement during the U.N-backed talks in Thailand last October.
Some developing countries, lead by India, were asking for financial assistance to reduce the use of the powerful heat-trapping gas.
The VCS said the decision is effective immediately. Projects already registered remain eligible to generate carbon credits until the end of their crediting periods.
Last month, the European Union reached a tentative deal to limit the use of HFCs. Countries in the bloc will try to cut by 80 percent the amount of the gas by 2030.
The EU had already blocked the use on its carbon market of credits generated by projects that destroy HFCs.
Those projects came under suspicion after green groups said some plants, instead of adopting techniques to directly eliminate HFCs in the industrial process, kept emitting the gases only with the intention to implement projects that win carbon credits by destroying them afterwards. (Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by David Gregorio)