International Environment Reporter™ helps you understand environmental laws, regulations, policies and trends in major industrialized and developing nations, as well as in international governmental and nongovernmental organizations.
BANGKOK--Representatives from parties to the Montreal Protocol have agreed to form a group to discuss technical, financial, and legal aspects of managing emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), possibly signaling the start of negotiations to amend the treaty to phase out the use of such chemicals in air conditioning and refrigeration units, according to observers.
The United Nations Environment Program called the move by the Open-Ended Working Group of Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer “quite good progress.” The group concluded its 33rd meeting in Bangkok on June 28.
China, India, and Brazil have been blocking a joint proposal by the United States, Canada, and Mexico to amend the protocol since 2009, contending that use of HFCs, which are considered a highly potent greenhouse gas, should be curtailed through an international treaty on climate change rather than a treaty on ozone depletion.
“The fact that they have started to discuss technical, financial, and legal aspects of addressing HFCs using the mechanism of the Montreal Protocol is a step in the right direction,” Marc Chasserot, who attended the meeting as an industry observer, told BNA in a July 1 email. Chasserot is a managing director of shecco, a market development company that supports the introduction of climate-friendly technologies.
Observers said one reason for the apparent shift is a more supportive attitude by China following a June 8 announcement by Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama that their countries will cooperate in phasing down HFC production and consumption using the Montreal Protocol (36 INER 842, 6/19/13).
At the working group meeting, China took a different tack than normal, being quiet in public debate and cooperative in behind-the-scenes efforts to get substantive discussions under way, blogged David D. Doniger, policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate and clean air programs.
“We know that serious assessments of feasibility and cost, and of policy, are under way in both China and India. So we look for continued progress,” Doniger told BNA.
Use of HFCs is growing rapidly, as the substances were identified as replacements for ozone-depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol. HFCs do not deplete the ozone layer, but many are highly potent greenhouse gases, with some having many times the global-warming potential that carbon dioxide has, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. HFCs are used in air conditioners and refrigerators and as sealants.
Elements of a deal have already been talked about with Brazil and South Africa outlining three concerns, according to Doniger.
First is building confidence that alternatives are available. “India took the strongest view that alternatives were lacking. Brazil and South Africa took more nuanced positions,” Doniger blogged.
Second is building confidence that developed countries will contribute sufficient additional funding to the Multilateral Fund for Implementation of the Montreal Protocol.
“If HFC comes into the protocol, more money will be needed,” a UNEP official told BNA.
Brent Hoare, executive director of the Green Cooling Council, said “a very significant step in the right direction is the voluntary contribution of €3 million ($3.9 million) being offered to the Multilateral Fund by the European Commission for natural refrigerants projects in developing countries.”
Third is clarifying the relationship between the Vienna Convention and its Montreal Protocol and the United Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol.
The working group is due to meet in October at the next Meeting of the Parties in Bangkok with intersessional conversations likely between key countries, said one source.
U.N. officials were not available to comment and no statement was released.
“My expectation is that the parties may schedule some extra meetings in 2014, with the goal of reaching an agreement by the Meeting of the Parties in fall 2014,” NRDC's Doniger told BNA.
More information on the Montreal Protocol is available at http://ozone.unep.org/new_site/en/index.php.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)