Vienna, Austria: In an official communiqué released by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Parties to the Montreal Protocol have made significant progress on agreeing to phase-down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in a series of back-to-back meetings held from July 15 to 23, 2016, in Vienna, raising expectations that a global agreement to address the super greenhouse gases can be adopted this year.
Early in the meetings, the communiqué said, Parties agreed language on finance, intellectual property and linkages to hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), ozone-depleting substances already being phased out under the protocol. Progress was later made on narrowing the range of baseline and consumption freeze dates for developing countries; however, it added, there remains significant divergence between countries on the climate ambition of the agreement.
The communiqué revealed that the European Union (EU) and JUSSCANNZ (Japan, the United States, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Norway) submitted a joint proposal to the discussions, offering more lenient starting points for both developed and developing countries than previous proposals submitted by the North American countries and the EU. They were later joined by the African, Pacific Islands and Latin American countries on a developing country schedule, which, the communiqué said, is now the most ambitious on the table, with an HFC consumption freeze in 2021.
India, the communiqué informed, is proposing to freeze HFC consumption some 10 years later, while most other developing countries, including China, Brazil and Indonesia, propose somewhere in between.
Ahead of last week’s meetings, EIA said that it has produced a briefing, The Importance of Ambition in the 2016 HFC Phase-Down Agreement, outlining key aspects of the proposals and calling on Parties to seek an agreement securing the highest climate ambition.
“Countries are moving in the right direction but there is a huge amount of work to be done to finalise an ambitious amendment in Kigali, in October,” said Clare Perry, Climate Campaign Leader at EIA. “Discussions on the HFC schedule for developed countries lacked the ambition we expect, given that these countries are in a position to fully understand their current HFC consumption and are already taking domestic action to phase-down HFCs. Climate leadership needs to be demonstrated through an ambitious commitment from the developed countries, not just words.”
Avipsa Mahapatra, Climate Campaign Manager at EIA, added: “Several of the baseline and freeze dates on the table are counterproductive. If India waits until 2031 for a freeze, it will not be able to leapfrog HFCs and will see a massive phase-in of these super greenhouse gases instead. It is in India’s interests to not only demand more from developed countries, but also ensure India doesn’t get locked into obsolete technology that will need yet another transition.”