EU proposes amendments to Montreal Protocol for global phase-down of HFCs

(Image: Air-conditioning in Hong Kong, 2008. Photo credit: Niall Kennedy/Flickr)

The European Commission on Thursday (April 30) announced the European Union submitted an amendment proposal to limit the global production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol.

EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete presented the proposal aimed to gradually halt production and consumption of the super greenhouse gases -mostly used in refrigeration and air-conditioning, as “timely, ambitious and realistic for all Parties to the Montreal Protocol”. A agreement on the global HFC phase-down “ would send an important signal ahead of the international climate negotiations in Paris later this year where we will adopt a new deal that will steer the world towards a more sustainable pathway”, Cañete said in the official statement.

Among the leading considerations of the proposal there is the need to address “the different situations in Article 5 and non-Article 5 Parties” of the Montreal Protocol, namely the majority of developing countries (where “the phase-out of HCFCs has just started”) and industrialized countries, “today major consumers of HFCs”.

Under the proposed amendment, industrialized countries are called on to take the lead by committing to a phase-down schedule beginning in 2019 and ending in 2034. Obligations for developing countries and economies in transition would be more flexible, initially capping the climate impact of the sectors concerned and agreeing on a phase-down schedule by 2020.

Richer countries (non-article 5 Parties of the Montreal Protocol) would use a baseline calculated from average HFC production and consumption levels between 2009 and 2012, and reduce that by 15 percent by 2019, 40 percent by 2023, 70 percent by 2028, and 85 percent by 2034.

Developing countries (operating under Article 5) would use baselines calculated from their average HFC production in 2009-2012 and their average HFC consumption in 2015-2016, freeze those levels by 2019 and reduce the production by 85 percent by 2040.

According to EU estimates, the proposed initiative (to be funded via the Multilateral Fund) would led to a global cumulative reductions of 127 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent (Gt CO2-eq) over 40 years.

According to EIA, the EU move follows similar proposals submitted since 2009 by the USA, Canada, Mexico and Micronesia, and would significantly reduce HFCs in developed countries by following a phase-down schedule closely matching the EU F-Gas Regulation adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in 2014.

“The EU clearly expects developed countries to lead by example,” said Clare Perry, Head of Climate at the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). “The EU has upped the ante significantly and is now calling on other developed countries to match it.”

The EU proposal will be considered at the upcoming Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) in Paris in July and at the Meeting of the Parties in Dubai in November.


(Image: Air-conditioning in Hong Kong, 2008. Photo credit: Niall Kennedy/Flickr)