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Delegates at UN Forum Reach Deal on Eliminating HCFCs

Canada's environment minister has hailed an agreement to accelerate the phasing out of certain chemicals that threaten Earth's ozone layer.

John Baird says the deal reached late Friday will stand out as what he called a "pivotal moment" in the international fight against global warming.

Delegates at a United Nations environmental conference in Montreal, Canada, agreed Friday to accelerate the deadline to stop production and use of HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) in developed nations from 2030 to 2020, and in developing nations by 2030.

The accord comes on the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, which initially set the goal to curb the use of HCFCs, which are used in refrigerators and air conditioners.

The chemicals erode the ozone, the layer of atmosphere that protects the Earth from the sun's ultraviolet rays.

The United Nations Environment Program described the agreement as "historic," and said the acceleration of the phasing out of HCFCs may also assist in restoring the health of the ozone layer by a few years.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.